The 40th anniversary of the women’s basketball program at the University of Ottawa and the inductions of Coleen Dufresne and Warren Sutton as founders of the program was the opportunity that gave nine of us from that founding team a time, place and reason to reconnect.
Kathy Webster, Coleen Dufresne, Dominique Thériault, Glynn Turner, Liz (Jeffrey) Murphy, Loretta Ann (Dooher) Madison, Raymonde D’Amour, Coach Warren Sutton and I all spent an amazing evening together during the women’s basketball Hall of Fame dinner hosted by the current Gee-Gees team. In fact, the evening was so great that the next morning seven of us gathered again for brunch to talk about the fun we had the evening prior.
It’s hard to believe that forty years ago we were all spending time together, regularly. At least four times per week we found ourselves working for a common goal, the impact of which, if truth be told, I certainly had taken for granted back then.
We were a team. There was something about being together that we all loved. It wasn’t spoken about, or even thought about, but it was real for us all. We had a bond. No one made us be together, no one offered us money for it and no one went home with anything that could be seen as tangible. But we all knew that being together was something that regularly put smiles on all of our faces and at a surface level it would be said that the bond was because of the ‘basketball’. But, I’m not so sure it was in the ball…
This weekend gave me a chance to experience the obvious power of perspective. For just a little while, we were a team again. What I found this weekend is really precious. I found myself surrounded by and flooded with feelings of joy and affection. All of the old admirations, enthusiasms, boundless joys, determinations, compassions, vulnerabilities innocence and profound gratitude were again, served up to the moment through simply being together.
Teams are little families, and the University of Ottawa women’s’ basketball team is one of them.
Undercurrents in groups are deep, and when the undercurrent is gratitude, then the team or the family wins, and wins easily. Once a winner at being grateful, always a winner. And we, members of the women’s basketball program of the University of Ottawa, are still natural winners at that.
Coach Warren, in his typical style brought to our attention, that the old spirit was still there and still just as strong as it was some 40 years ago. Coleen still shines effortlessly; still surprised at being honored, still grateful for having such a positive impact and still naturally working at learning and improving.
The energy we shared together as a team back then was reignited this weekend with the memories we shared. Looks, hugs, smiles, stories, jokes, questions, and the great simplicities of any moment; walking together, riding in elevators, car rides, sitting at a table together, watching a game together, getting dressed to go out, discussing what was coming up, asking each other for directions, making sure each of us were taken care of, helping each other find answers, and yes, even performing a common goal together--winning. It was just like being at a tournament again although this time instead of giving ourselves to a basketball game, we gave ourselves the time to appreciate who we have become.
Thank you Coach Andy, and all of you dear young women of the 2010-11 season for serving, sharing and receiving us all with such warmth and enthusiasm. You’ve inspired us. You’ve shown us again the love that lives in any moment when people put their best effort into playing together.
Put it in the ball!
Gee-Gees women’s basketball 1970-1972