Thursday, April 06, 2006

Duke lacrosse scandal overshadows fabulous Duke women's hoops season

Each day, the Duke men's lacrosse team scandal grows so much more disturbing that each new revelation overshadows all of the great things going on in the City of Durham and at Duke University.

Today, I'd like to share with you some things you're not hearing about - the activities of fabulous young folks at a great American university.

First, props to David Fiocco for telling us some good news about The Real Face of Duke University and the spectrum of activities that the vast majority of Duke students have initiated and executed to improve their community. As always, the sensational missteps of a few bad eggs (really bad eggs in this case) tend to get far more media attention than students of character who are raised with a proper sense of respect and community, using their talents to improve life for those less fortunate or otherwise in need, no matter where they live.

Second, congratulations to the Duke women's hoops team for toughing out a heartbreaking loss to Maryland in the NCAA finals. With just seven seconds from a national championship, a Maryland 3-pointer sent the game into overtime where Duke ultimately came up short, losing 78-75.

Our family got heavily into Duke women's hoops this year, due initially to the first year play of fellow Colorado expats, Emily Waner (right) and Abby Waner (left). Their Dad, Tim Waner, played for a time in the New York Yankees farm system. Together with his wife, Jeanie, they endowed these girls with some incredible genes and a strength of character rarely seen in 18- to 21-year-olds. In fact, I'd love for them to write a book on parenting so we could learn how to do even half as well with our daughter.

Well, as my man Barry Jacobs put it last November, "Best of Duke's newcomers may be the Waner sisters--5-foot-10 Abby, a freshman guard voted Gatorade's prep player of the year in 2005, and 5-foot-8 playmaker Emily, a sophomore transfer from Colorado. Perhaps they'll be nicknamed "Big Poison" and "Little Poison" in emulation of the Waner brothers, Lloyd and Paul, Major League baseball Hall of Famers who played from the mid-1920s through World War II."

After the game Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, freshman Abby Waner gave a heart-wrenching but incredibly mature and poised interview with ESPN that had my eyes welling with tears even on the third playback.

Our little girl and I have gotten to know these great young ladies a little bit this year and went to Cameron Cathedral last evening with about 350 other fans to a 15-minute welcome back for these tremendous student-athletes. (My wife was still in clinic seeing patients.)

PharmPreSchooler thought that bringing her Build-a-Bear Glitter Pony would help to cheer the ladies up. It was a bittersweet homecoming in that the finals loss was followed immediately by three seniors (Mo Currie, Mistie Williams, and Jess Foley) being drafted into the WNBA that afternoon. If I were on the team, the last thing I'd want to do would be to come directly from the airport to another public event. The ladies looked tired and demoralized. Everyone who spoke had an emotional quiver in their voice, but it was clear that they appreciated the support on their return to the Bull City. Getting to know some of these folks as students really humanizes for me the pain and disappointment they must be feeling.

But my daughter held up Glitter Pony, clapping its little glittery hooves with the rest of the crowd. We got up close so she could show the players that Glitter Pony was proud of them; when she caught Abby's eye, it was the first time I saw her smile in public, and maybe even laugh, since the disappointment in Boston.

After the quick program, some players and Coach Gail Goestenkors still stuck around outside Cameron to sign autographs, take pictures, and thank the fans - what a complete class act. Australian Jess Foley (what collegiate athlete has a book club with her coach on the team's website?) expressed shock at her being drafted by the Indiana WNBA team and had a good laugh when she learned that my little girl didn't want an autograph; she just wanted to show Jess her Glitter Pony.

Even Coach G was incredibly gracious with my little one, offering to take a picture and accepting our thanks for being a great Duke leader, teacher, and role model at such a difficult time in the history of the university.

And for those of you in our media market, check out the photo on page 9C of the Raleigh News & Observer: just to the left of the podium, you'll see a picture of a little girl with her head turned to the side, clutching Glitter Pony.

Thank you, Duke women, coaches, docs, and other staff - the 2005-06 season has been a great ride and we can't wait until next season.

I can't think of a better group of folks to serve as role models for our daughter.

As far as we're concerned, the Duke women's basketball team ARE champions.

2 Comments:

Blogger Fabio has something to say said...

I stumbled across your blog on a search for "fabulous blogs"...now I know why you are considered fabulous! It looks like we have more in common than blogging!

June 17, 2006 7:28 PM  
Blogger Alena said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

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February 03, 2010 1:09 AM  

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