I just graduated from the University of Connecticut two months ago, so I experienced two men’s basketball championships (2011 and 2014) and two women’s basketball championships (2013 and 2014) in my four years. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been a student during those four monumental years in UConn’s athletic history, and my job working with UConn Athletics in the Video Department allowed me even further behind-the-scenes access than the typical student.
As lead cameraman for UConn Athletics, I attended countless practices, games, and press conferences where I was able to get to know the players at a more personal level. Seeing their machine-like worth ethic during the long off-season made me appreciate the athletes so much more, as they balanced schoolwork and athletics. I was ecstatic when the men’s team won the national championship, and ran to the center of campus from my off-campus house when the game finished so I could celebrate with my peers. Lots of high fives, hugs, and UConn cheers filled Fairfield Way in the middle of the Storrs, CT campus, with thousands of smiling students living on cloud nine. Unfortunately, the newspapers decided to focus on the minimal negative things that happened that night instead of the countless good things.
Connecticut residents, not having a professional basketball team, follow and worship UConn basketball from a young age. Because of this, many non-students were also on campus during this historical period. Similarly to the controversy surrounding UConn’s ex-Spring Weekend fiascos, problems arise on campus when non-students come in and try to feel included. Not to sound pretentious, but of the arrests made as a result of vandalism on the championship nights, police reported that most of the people were NOT UConn students.
My hope is that these alleged “riots” do not remain in people’s memories and taint these championships. Witnessing first hand those two teams work year-round toward a single goal brings tears to my eyes when people choose to talk about non-students vandalizing rather than those special student-athletes.
When the women won a week later, I trotted to campus again to celebrate, and to my pleasant discovery, it was almost entirely UConn students that were high fiving and cheering. Again, this article is not to point fingers. I just hope to remove the stain on these championships that has been caused by a few unfortunate incidents by disrespectful non-students.