What a start to 2020. Australia continued to suffer from wildfires, Pop Smoke, David Stern, Kobe and Gianna Bryant and several others aboard their helicopter died, Americans tried to make sense of the impeachment trial and now, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted global civilization.
I could write about whether seniors college basketball players should receive an extra year of eligibility or not. I could debate if it was necessary to cancel the NCAA Tournament at this stage.
But I won’t.
The two times I have sat in front of a keyboard since the college basketball season was cancelled, I tried to give a basketball take of some kind. Each time, it felt trivial. As much as I need an escape from the current situation, there is an indescribable sensation in my gut preventing me from focusing on most matters.
What I have been able to do is reflect. A lot. Between the University of Richmond sending all of its students packing, myself included, and the cancellation of March Madness, the realization that what you love most you can lose the fastest struck me like a spear through the heart.
Rather than recap Richmond’s incredible season, which I will do at some point, or belabor hypothetical outcomes of the postseason, I would like to share some of my reflections in a thank you note to Spider nation:
To the players and coaches,
Thank you for working tirelessly each day from last summer all the way through Thursday. Thank you for the Grant Golden backdoor passes, the Jacob Gilyard steal and scores, Nick and Blake’s shooting extravaganza, Nate Cayo’s huge improvement on the glass and defensive end, Tyler Burton’s backboard pinning blocks, Andre Gustavson’s alley-oops, the “Woj Bombs,” the walk-on minutes, the Bojangles Free Throws, the Chris Mooney technicals and every other contribution you all added that made this season special.
To the Spider fans,
Thank you for supporting a 20-year-old’s dream of making it in the sports media industry. Thank you for every message of support, for every critique and suggestion, every engagement, retweet and like. Thank you for filling the Robins Center and being the energy in the stands that I had to reluctantly give up when I took upon this media badge.
To the VCU fans,
Thank you for creating one of the best rivalries in college basketball. When I left Boston, one of my biggest drawbacks was Richmond’s lack of professional sports. The rivalry between my Red Sox and the New York Yankees is what makes watching baseball special to me. I did not think I’d find anything close to that, or even enjoy any college basketball season like I have enjoyed countless Boston sports seasons. Man was I wrong. The passion and fire you all bring to this crosstown rivalry has made this the most fun I have ever had following any team.
To the rest of the A-10 media,
Thank you for taking an impulsive Gen-Z seriously. Thank you for valuing the work I put in and the love I have for covering the Spiders. Thank you to Bob Black for responding to a freshman’s Twitter DM shooting his shot. Thank you to all of ESPN Richmond for entrusting me to represent your brand responsibly and prove that I am more than just a young blogger. Thank you to every other writer and podcaster who I collaborated with, far too many to name. Thank you to Austin Daisey for helping me kickstart the Spider Scoop Podcast and turning a content partnership into a real friendship.
The Spiders’ best season in nine years ended in the worst way possible. Joe Lunardi projected them in the field as a 12 seed in his final bracketology. They were poised for a legitimate run at an A-10 title in the Barclays Center, a run I was supposed to witness in person.
It doesn’t matter anymore.
What does matter is the new relationships we all built watching an incredible A-10 season. What matters is the joy we witnessed this magnificent Spider team play with. What matters is each and every moment, good and bad, that we will all cherish.
I don’t have a thesis or some overarching point. I am still reacting to the abrupt ending of sports. I am still figuring out when and how I will be getting back home. I am still figuring out how to protect my loved ones and myself from this virus. But that’s the name of the game currently: fluidity.
There aren’t many absolutes today, but I know one: the happiness I had being a part of such an outstanding Spider season.
I will be making the long drive down to Florida Friday night or Saturday morning, so it may be a few days before I can start putting on Richmond content again. But I will. I will because there is not anything else I can do, nor is there anything else I would rather do.