SOUTH CAROLINA: WHERE CHAMPIONS LIVE!


Sixty-four women’s basketball teams were invited to the NCAA Division I post-season tournament in 2017 in the annual ritual that is known as March Madness in the USA. But after two thrilling games in 16 different host cities around the country the Sweet Sixteen winners of those first two games were scattered to the winds like a bag of M&Ms with peanuts spilled on the floorboard of a moving vehicle into the 4 Regional host cities of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Stockton, California; and Lexington, Kentucky.

The hoop dreams of the young women on those Sweet Sixteen teams, their coaches and their fans were riding high as they battled it out in the regionals – but when the dust settled and those two elimination games were finished the Final Four teams were decided. The University of Connecticut a/k/a UConn, Stanford University, Mississippi State University and the University of South Carolina were the regional winners that would emerge from the Elite 8 to move on to Dallas, Texas for the Final Four. The race was on as fans began to scramble for tickets to the semi-finals and finals in Dallas.

Pretty and I were in New Orleans at a literary conference when South Carolina’s women played their regional games in Stockton, California so we were confined to watching the Quinnipiac and Florida State victories on TVs in sports bars in between the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival events and the Chris Rock concert. As soon as the Florida State game was over, though, Pretty joined the scramble for the Dallas tickets through the Gamecock Club…and the rest, as they say, is history.

The National Anthem view

from the Gamecock section on Sunday night

(we were there when the doors opened at 3:30 Dallas time)

The Beginning

The End!!

The hysterically happy fans!

The hysterically happy team!

All-Tournament Team Member Allisha Gray

Gray, Gray, Gray – you are Pretty’s favorite

(and have been her favorite since the season began)

All-Tournament Team Member A’ja Wilson

Tournament MVP, All-American in 2017

All That to the Gamecock team and their fans since she rolled out as a freshman three years ago and helped us get to the Final Four in Tampa her first year. This girl lays it all on the line every game every season and is, in my humble opinion, Number One. She ignites and inspires her teammates to play their very best by her example, and that, my friends, is the mark of a true champion.

Champions beget champions, and no one is more responsible for the victories in Dallas than Head Coach Dawn Staley.

Cut ’em down, Coach

and may it be your first of many

Alas, the team and most of the fans had left the building, but Pretty and I found one solitary remaining security man to take a final picture in the American Airlines Arena.

And then we were done.

Yep – the last car standing

By the end of the game and festivities, I was worn out and ready to retire to the La Quinta king-sized bed to reflect on the events of not just the day but the past two weeks of our ride from Columbia to New Orleans and on into Texas. What a country…what an experience…what a way to end my 70th. year.

But Pretty was having none of it. So off we went to our old stomping grounds the Nodding Donkey where we met Super Gamecock Fan Matt Tischler who we’d seen Friday night at the Stanford game. He flew to Phoenix for the men’s Final Four game on Saturday and then flew back to Dallas Sunday for the women’s game. Whew! I was exhausted just thinking about how tired he must be, but he wasn’t too tired to meet us for a beer to celebrate. The Nodding Donkey patrons cheered us when we walked in.

I wondered how I knew all these people – and then realized it was the Gamecock gear they were cheering. Fabulous.

 Matt was holding me up by the end of the night

When Pretty drove me back to the motel, we saw the Dallas skyline one more time, and this is what we saw…

Thanks, Dallas!

And thanks to Pretty for taking most of the pictures in the blog today, driving us all over the country for the past two weeks, lugging the suitcases in and out of motels, walking two very bad dogs who loved to annoy her by getting out of their leashes in the most dangerous locations – and still having the energy to sing country music songs with me when we were lucky enough to find the classics on the radio in the car. Pretty is Number One in my book.

We’ll be back in Columbia today. Stay tuned as we are no longer able to procrastinate packing.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies who periodically indulges her desires to write outside her genre by trying to write fiction and poetry. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press is publishing her collection of first-person accounts of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBT organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBT history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published four nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and a group of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly. Her Texas roots are never too far from her thoughts.
This entry was posted in Life, Personal, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to SOUTH CAROLINA: WHERE CHAMPIONS LIVE!

  1. Cindy says:

    Congratulations on a wonderful win, and an epic adventure! Those are always the best kind! I am an IPTAY member, But I was a South Gamecock( just a pinch), the night they won!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats Pretty — you made an ol girl very happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like you had a Pawty, Sheila. Concatulations…and so great to see you too and the Pretty😎 Pawkisses for a wonderful time☺❤

    Liked by 1 person

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