Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Football team thrilled to have front row seat to celebration

There were plenty of images from Wednesday's on-campus celebration that were pretty hard to forget. None will stick with me longer than the emotional speeches from seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley. Then there was the surprising sight of the football team, in full uniforms, walking to area outside the Student Union and taking a knee when UConn coach Geno Auriemma began to speak just as they would have if it were their own coach Bob Diaco behind the microphone.

The football team headed back to practice once the event was over so I didn't get a chance to get their reaction to the heartfelt messages given by Dolson and Hartley. However, it was a subject I brought up with Diaco and a few players after yesterday's spring football game.

"I’ve heard some of that. Coach A (Auriemma) hit me up and ‘thanks for bringing the team,’" Diaco said. "The reality of it is that we got more than we gave. We are listening to those two young ladies at the end talk, sobbing and just pouring out their hearts about how much they love the game, how much they love their school, how much they love their teammates and how much they love their coach. It was priceless for our guys to hear, for me to hear, it was well worth the missed practice time 10 times more important."

Quarterback Chandler Whitmer believes it was a special team bonding experience for the team.

"It was awesome," Whitmer said. "Just seeing the dynasty that Coach Auriemma and those girls have and the school spirit with the boys’ basketball team was there and it kind of fired us up and made up realize we want to be a part of that winning tradition, make that statement and head in the right direction. We are close with those girls. We see them every day, they live in the same building as us so obviously the emotion that they showed was powerful and it was a great way for them to go out. Just to be a part of that, to be around that was good for us."

Last year had coach Paul Pasqualoni and assistant coach Kermit Buggs were at the ceremony but I don't ever recall the entire team coming to an event like that and especially not as a unit like they did on Wednesday.

"They were a great team, those girls and those guys were so dominant and it was great to have that time with them," cornerback Byron Jones said. "We’ve never partaken in any of that so it was great to see how passionate the fans were and to see all their achievements was great.."

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