About 3 years ago, I started a new tradition on Senior Day that I read a letter to each senior aloud to the team before the game. I was planning this when we had a 2-3 record in the conference. I already expected it to be an emotional day. It was possible that we could have to win the game to get in the tournament. We would be playing our most intense rival. It would be the last game on our campus, and the final home game for a senior class who have carried this program to new heights. I thought the last thing we would need is for me to spend time reading 7 emotional letters before such a big game.
I decided we could get together on Friday night before the men's game. I also decided that the parents were invited. I can't explain how I felt reading the letters in front of the parents, but I do think it was special.
I reserved a room in McWhorter - our new $30 million building that houses pharmacy, physical therapy, and psychology. It is beautiful! There were almost 50 people in the room. I explained what we were doing and why we were doing it this way. I'm not sure if people expected me to, but I talked about the season. We underachieved, and I made no apologies. We have to live with it and learn from it. I thanked coaches and staff, parents, and players. Then, I read the letters.
I hope the seniors like pictures. I gave each of them a photobook. The team made each of them a scrapbook. I am so impressed with the scrapbooks. The underclassmen partner up and each set of partners make a page for the book. They put a lot of time, creativity, and personal touch into making the books.
We kept 2 game day traditions. The seniors were introduced before the game with their families. The team made each senior a sheet and hung them on the fence before the game. They were so cute! All 7 seniors were in the starting line up - Jessica Rix, Marcela Sanchez, Lydia Wright, Jayme Trocino, Erica Carter, Maddie Porter, and Patience Whitten.
Our game against Lipscomb was like most of our home games this season. We outplayed them for most of the first half. We looked pretty good doing it, and we had very little to show for it. JTro did score an excellent goal in the first 20 minutes. It was a goal that only she can score. She passed the ball out wide. She moved forward to get it back at the top of the penalty area. She split 2 defenders by keeping the ball close on the dribble and had no trouble placing a shot past the goalkeeper. As happy as it was for her to score in her final game, it was also a huge reminder of what had been missing all year. I couldn't help but think, What if...?
The 2nd half was mostly the same. Lipscomb had a player sent off with 2 yellow cards, and they immediately got a good shot that hit the crossbar. We were inches away from being tied 1-1, despite outshooting our opponent by more than 10 shots.
In the last 10 minutes, we scored 3 goals. Loftis picked up her 2nd and 3rd assists. Amy Jo scored the first goal of her career. Erica got her final career assist and goal, and JTro scored the final goal of her career.
It was a nice way to end the season.