For some reason, there was silence.
The No. 6-seeded Nebraska women’s basketball team had just upset No. 3-seed Texas A&M on the road to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for just the second time in school history, and not a sound could be heard on the Husker radio.
Just minutes before, it was pandemonium on the floor as the women celebrated mid-court. Husker radio play-by-play announcer Matt Coatney screamed “the Huskers are going to the Sweet Sixteen!” as the bench cleared and crimson jerseys bounced in celebratory hugs.
But right now, no more than five minutes later, all that could be heard was the soft static of the radio background.
Finally, a voice broke through.
“You’ll have to excuse me a moment, ladies and gentlemen,” Coatney said on air.
A few more silent moments passed.
“Something just happened that I’m not sure I have the vocabulary to describe.”
For the past 11 years, Coatney called every home and away Nebraska women’s basketball game, and not once had he been silenced like this.
“Lindsey Moore just came over to me and gave me the biggest hug…” Coatney said, struggling to keep his composure. “When you get to do what I do, and see what these young ladies go through and to see them reach their goals…. it’s just something special.”
Sometimes, sports are more than just sports. And sometimes the score on the scoreboard says more than just who won and who lost. Sometimes sports are lessons.
Last night was one of those times, proving a team can teach more than just how to shoot a perfect jump shot.
This Nebraska squad is one of those teams, and Coatney knows it. And if you knew what he knows, you might realize it too.
Because there truly are many things we can learn from Nebraska’s historic 74-63 win last night, and it’s not between the numbers in the box score. It’s the players.
We can learn resilience from senior Meghin Williams, who has battled foot and ankle injuries throughout her career. Williams can’t practice during the week because of the pain, but is constantly referred to as the glue of the Nebraska squad. The mother. The nurturing elder who keeps spirits high. She doesn’t get many minutes a game, but that doesn’t matter to her. The win last night couldn’t have happened without her leadership.
We can learn perseverance from Brandi Jeffery, who played a vital role coming off of the bench this year. Jeffery started Nebraska’s first game this season, but then battled through an ankle injury early in the year. Her injury was then followed by her grandmother’s death, which set her back another game or two. She hardly made it onto the stat sheet for a few games, but is now Nebraska’s sixth man off the bench, and hit a huge 3-pointer in the second half to extend Nebraska’s lead.
With each player comes a new lesson. With Jordan Hooper, its humbleness. How an All-American is never satisfied or pleased with a 20-point game if her team loses.
With Moore, it’s leadership; she’s single-handedly pushed this Nebraska team further than coach Connie Yori could have predicted.
Some may look at Coatney’s emotions after the Texas A&M win and sneer or think he’s overdoing it a little. But when you truly understand the significance and the circumstances, you really can’t blame him.
So take out the quill and a bottle of ink, and sketch the 2012-2013 women’s basketball team into the Husker history books. The Huskers have earned it for more than just their Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Chris Heady is a freshman news-editorial major. you can reach him at email@example.com.