Turning Blue: How it Feels to Win a Championship

Emma Cunningham // Columnist 

On March 3, 2018, the Capilano Blues women’s basketball team became provincial champions. Everybody had a different experience of that weekend. This is mine. 

I have played basketball since I was 9 years old. I was lucky enough to be recruited by Camosun College on a full scholarship, played two full seasons there, and loved it. That was until my third year came around and everything changed. I, along with two of my teammates, ended up quitting the team in November, and I thought my basketball career was over. I had worked so hard to play at the college level, and it was finished after only two seasons. A couple long months later, the CapU assistant coach at the time reached out, and got me inspired about possibly playing again. I decided to make the move from Victoria to North Vancouver and try this basketball thing one more time.  

We had a strong preseason led by our captains Carmelle M’Bikata, Ashley De La Cruz Yip, and Sherrie Errico who continuously reminded us of our goal—winning a provincial championship. I still felt anger and bitterness towards Camosun, so when we played them in November, I was locked in. We ended up losing that game which was a hard pill to swallow, but we had bigger plans.  

Because we had such a successful season, we finished first in the league and therefore got a first-round bye in the provincial tournament. Our semi-final game was against a tough VIU team. We were so focused on the championship, we overlooked VIU and barely snuck by them, winning 58-57 in a nail-biter that was secured by a massive block from Carmelle. On the other side, Camosun overcame Douglas College in their semi-final. The stage was set, Capilano vs. Camosun in the Provincial Championship game. For me personally, you couldn’t have written a better script. That night, we all took ice baths in the hotel bathtubs trying to get our bodies ready for war the next day.  

The next morning, I woke up incredibly nervous and excited. I spent the whole day in the hotel room relaxing, focusing and beginning to get into game mode. The team got together and we watched recorded footage of past Camosun games. We analyzed what they run, weak spots in their defense and how we could exploit those things to our advantage. Then, we got into the vans that would take us to the biggest game of our careers. 

As we were warming up, the crowd began to grow, and by tip-off the gym was full. We couldn’t have asked for a better start; we grew a big lead in the first two quarters and went into halftime up 31-14. Camosun came out strong in the third quarter and began to close the gap, but we had a push of our own and ended the quarter up 49-34. At the start of the fourth quarter, Camosun came out strong again, they dwindled our lead to just 10. With two minutes left, one of their players caught fire and hit three 3-pointers in under a minute. We were up by seven with 15 seconds left. They fouled me, and I went to the line. My body was exhausted, but the lifelong dream of a championship overcame the immense fatigue, and I hit my last free throw of the game to go up eight with just five seconds left. The game was over—we knew we had done it. When the buzzer went off, it was the loudest sound that gym had ever heard, but in my head, it was silent. I ran over to my teammates and hugged every one of them like they were family I hadn’t seen in 10 years.  

Overflowing with joy and relief, we stood arm in arm awaiting that coveted gold around our necks. During the medal ceremony, and for the rest of the night, I could not wipe the smile off my face, even writing this right now I am smiling ear to ear. I am forever grateful to those teammates and coaches, the game of basketball and the ability I was blessed with to play the game I love. There is nothing like the challenge, comradery and achievement of university sports. I have new lifelong friends, and memories that will last forever. I am tremendously honoured to be a Blue.  

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