Windsor Lancers

Monday, April 14, 2014

Final Four Creates Lifetime Memories: Alyssa Englert's Nashville Final Four Blog


Wow, the Final Four was quite the experience of a lifetime! I’ve never had so much fun doing so many different activities in an incredible city. If you have never been to a Final Four and are debating on whether it’s worth it to go or not…IT IS!
Sunday was my first full day in Nashville. I started off the morning by attending a “meet and greet” with Beth Bass, the current Chief Executive Officer of the WBCA, with the other nine members of the Good Works Team and their parents/guests.

Beth invited all of us up to her suite in the morning just to better acquaint each of us and congratulate us on making the Good Works Team. It was amazing to hear all the extraordinary things the other girls had done to be involved in their community and even further than their local area. Many of the girls were a Big Sister or Buddy program for 3-4 years like I have been, some helped out at
homeless shelters, and many had run basketball camps.

Several girls had gone to other countries such as Brazil and South Africa to complete missions and/or run educational programs for a few weeks. I thought that was truly remarkable. Not only did some of the girls reach out to their local communities, they also traveled out to third world countries and gave back. Like myself, some of the other Good Works Team members have been impacted somehow by cancer.

One of the team members worked with a nine-year old girl battling leukemia, another had been involved in breast cancer awareness events and helped to raise money towards research. I was blown away by the resume's of my Good Works Team members.

Later that day the ten of us went over to “Tourney Town” to hand out awards to groups in the Nashville area that had given back to their community. These included some local Boys & Girls Clubs, church groups, and YMCA’s. Each group got their award and the representatives went down the line to shake the hands of the 10 Good Works Team members. The kids were so excited and honored to shake our hands which was very cute.
Next up…GAME TIME BABYYY! We gathered in the hotel lobby and walked over together to the Bridgestone Arena to watch the Final Four games. First up, #4 Maryland vs. #1 Notre Dame, who was undefeated. What a great first game to get the night started! Notre Dame had so much talent at the guard position and couldn’t miss! They ended up getting an easy 20+ point victory over Maryland in the end.

Next up was #1 UConn, also undefeated of course, vs. #1 Stanford. UConn is probably the toughest team in the country. So disciplined and relentless to the point where
they seem invincible. This was a very special game because just after halftime, myself and the rest of the 2014 Allstate WBCA Good Works Team were recognized on court.  We walked onto the court during one of the timeouts and were individually announced. This was a truly a wonderful for me because the gym was filled with 85% UConn fans who knew of the University of Hartford. So when my name was announced there was a roaring ovation from the crowd! I couldn’t believe it, it was amazing to hear so many people cheering for me, I’ve never had such a big smile on my face.

The next day was an early morning as we got up to celebrate Allstate WBCA Good Works Day.  We spent almost all day at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. When we first got their we introduced ourselves and got to meet a lot of the staff and directors as they talked a little bit about the hospital and some of its goals and initiatives. Then Allstate and the 10 of us got to present the hospital with a $10,000 check! They were all so happy and grateful and talked about all the great things they could put the money towards. After that we spent the next hour or so assembling over 300 “Wellness Kits” that included a water bottle, hand sanitizer, lotion, chap-stick, sunscreen, and a stress ball all put into a cold-insulated zip-up lunch bag.
We then broke up into three teams and walked around different areas of the hospital to distribute them and visit with patients. I have never been around so many wonderful people in my entire life. I felt so blessed to be able to visit and talk with each of the patients that I had met. They were so kind and courageous going through what was probably the toughest obstacle in their life. But yet, they were so excited and honored to see us. I felt like it was the other way around because I was the one that felt excited and fortunate. The Team and I spent the next couple hours or so walking around the hospital delivering the Wellness Kits and talking basketball smack about the men’s and women’s tournament. After walking around and visiting, all of the staff, directors, Allstate representatives and the Team sat down for lunch and shared a little bit about ourselves. We concluded with a movie that the hospital had made about surviving cancer, living your life to its fullest, and having hope. The entire day at the hospital was so moving and heartfelt. I couldn’t help but be inspired by everyone there. Patients, staff, administrators, everyone was part of this incredible family and I was so glad we were able to go there as part of Good Works Day. Such an amazing time!
That evening was the WBCA Awards Show. We were lucky enough to be announced with the Naismith and Wade Trophy winners and Coach of the Year. Plenty of decorated athletes and coaches were in attendance including Coach Rizzotti who actually presented the Wade Trophy winner. It was a privilege to be in the presence of so many basketball greats.

Tuesday was my final day in Nashville. This was a day filled with a lot more down time until the afternoon. Around 2:30p.m. we all went over to Tourney Town for an autograph session. I felt like a celebrity up on stage signing posters and basketballs for young players and families, getting my picture taken, and having people congratulate me. I was so surprised on how many people were in line to get our autographs but I was so happy and once again had a huge smile on my face.
That evening was the national championship game. The best part of course…watching UConn celebrate as they had claimed there ninth National Championship! I had watched the game many times before on TV, but to be there in person was so cool! Watching the team jumping on each other, jumping on Coach Auriemma, holding up the trophy, and cutting down the nets was thrilling. I felt so lucky to be there and watch it all happen in person.

That concluded my time at the Final Four in Nashville. I know I’ve said it a hundred times before but what an AMAZING experience. Between receiving the award and being involved in all the great things I did while I was down there, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I am so grateful to Allstate for the opportunity and for accommodating me and my parents on our trip. I would also like to thank the WBCA for selecting me as one of five Division I players to be on the Team. And of course to everyone at the University of Hartford that nominated me. It was one of the best experiences of my life and it makes every minute of community service I have ever done, and will continue to do in the future, truly worth it. Again, thank you to everyone that made this all possible for me. I am honored to be a part of the 2014 Allstate WBCA Good Works Team!