Jan. 19, 2006
Throughout the season an Illinois women's basketball player will post her thoughts on fightingillini.com in a weekly blog. This week, freshman Danielle Gratton discusses returning to class, traveling and her teammates having her back.
Women's BasketBlog - Jan. 19, 2006 - Danielle Gratton
"Back to school, back to school, to prove to my daddy I ain't no fool, back to school..."
-Adam Sandler in "Billy Madison"-
After a nice winter break, we decided it was time to put the student back in to student-athlete. The second semester had to start some time. As you could imagine we were all very eager to get back to our studies. So Monday the freshmen and Crutch moved back in to the dorms. I like to call my dorm room my "little box." Once there I admired all the things I missed over break, like the Steeler posters hanging on my wall [sorry but I had to give my Pittsburgh Steelers a shout out]. Once settled, it was time for me to tackle the heaping mountain of dirty clothes, which had accumulated over winter break. I resided in the laundry room for a good chunk of the day I was the only one in there, after all, all the kids that went home for winter break had their parents do their laundry. I am appalled by the very thought of this. I mean come on now, college students need to learn how to be responsible. All right, so I'm being a hypocrite.
I guess I should take the time to catch you all up on what has happened since the last time I talked to you last. Let's see here, it's been a pretty nice couple of weeks in the Illini family. We all went bowling over break. You would be amazed at how good our bowling skills are. You got Erin McCarthy who ever so gingerly glides the ball down the lane to meet its target. I mean you couldn't even hear her ball thump on the floor. In the lane next to her, Chelsea Gordon's effort outshined the number of pins she knocked down, or lack thereof. In the last lane there was our point guard hitting the pins with pinpoint accuracy, just like one of her passes to J for a three! Honorable mentions go out to Danyel Crutcher who scored with style points, to our special guest, and of course to my bowling coach Lacey Simpson. It would be wrong if I didn't mention the person who was the MVP bowler, Coach Blaine Patterson. I think one of his quotes at one time or another was "I am the greatest." His modesty truly overwhelms us all.
I know it may be hard to believe, but in addition to bowling we did play some basketball. We enjoyed wins against Northwestern, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Next we travel to Michigan State. It's going to be my first time in Michigan. Before the U of I, I tended to stick to the east coast. In fact, it was my first time to Wisconsin and Iowa. That's another reason why I enjoy playing basketball in college. I get to see places that I might not see when I'm older. I am not putting down the state of Rhode Island in any way, but if it weren't for playing basketball there over break I don't think I would have made it there later in my life. I mean it's not exactly the top vacation spot.
I know I have digressed throughout my whole blog, but there is one thing I just want to touch upon. If you want to have a successful team, then the players have to care for one another. Coach Grentz's favorite quote is, "my job is to love you and your job is to love each other." I couldn't say it any better. If teammates don't have each other's back, then how are they going to perform on the court? Are they going to make a play looking behind their back to make sure they are okay? That's the thing - when your teammates have your back you don't feel pressured. You can focus on what lies before you instead of lingering in the past. With this team we care for each other. I know when I walk on that court my teammates have my back and they let me know it. Whether it's a high five by Janelle, a tap on the back by Maggie, or a look from Wigs to get me going, I know they're there for me.
See, you have to be willing to go in to battle with your teammates, which is why the quote to end my blog this week is from Audrey Tabon. She sums up our determination and mindset going in to games by saying, "Kill, kill, kill..."
Danielle Gratton #35