(Guru’s Note From Deep Down Here in Texas: Kayla Goldman, a student out of Orlando, Fla., is along for the ride in the shotgun seat with the Guru at this year’s Women’s Final Four.
Following in the tradition of Guru blogerettes who pioneered the next generation of coverage at previous Final Fours over the last several years, here are Kayla's first-day impressions off of Saturday’s hectic schedule).
By Kayla Goldman
SAN ANTONIO - There aren’t many people involved in the press and media here at the Women’s Final Four that are doing the press and media for their very first time.
However, it is my first time here in the Alamo City, my first time meeting the Guru in person in person, and all thanks to him, though I’ve been to previous Women’s Finals as a spectator, this is my first time as a member of the media contingent covering the marquee event in women’s collegiate sports.
So, quick thanks to the Guru for having faith in me and enabling me with a credential to get a view from the journalistic side where my future career aspirations lie.
I’ve been to the Women’s Final Four twice before – 2008 in Tampa and 2009 in St. Louis.
I attended both as a fan, and, yes, as a heavily-biased UConn fan.
Separating my personal feelings as I enter into a professional atmosphere has been surprisingly easy, as I’ve now come to a strong realization: I may be a fan of UConn, but first and foremost, I am a supporter of women’s basketball and women’s basketball needs to be supported more.
As a college student pursuing sports journalism as a profession, I’ve read and heard about the nightmare affecting the field of journalism.
I’ve heard about the unfortunate cuts and the devolution of the newspaper industry.
Aside from that, I can honestly say that there are about five times more men than there are women as credentialed media for Sunday and Tuesday night’s games at the Alamodome.
However, thanks to gaining access with a laminated pass around my neck, I am among those few females and I have been able to obtain a few quotes, shake a few well-known hands, but more importantly, enjoy some of the extra perks of sports journalism.
For instance, besides being able to further develop a nourished mind through coverage here, wherever one turns, food for the palate is available.
At the ESPN press conference Saturday morning, I was able to not only have a bagel but to meet and interview Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck.
Lawson is an Olympic gold medalist and a former Tennessee star who will play this season in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun. She had been a member of the former Sacramento Monarchs.
Peck played at Vanderbilt and coached the former Orlando Miracle in the WNBA. She also guided Purdue to the 1999 NCAA women’s title.
Peck divulged details on Baylor’s resume against Connecticut’s while Lawson shared personal insights on transitioning from the Monarchs to the Sun.
I also had the opportunity to stand courtside as The State Farm Wade Trophy All-America team was announced and Maya Moore accepted the Wade Trophy as Player of the Year. The Women's Basketball Coaches Association selects each of the honors.
I sat in the second row of a press conference with the Connecticut Huskies.
I heard UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who grew up in Norristown outside Philly, end the session of questions with a remarkable quote in regard to aspects of the “streak.”
The Huskies are going into Sunday night’s second game with an NCAA record 76 wins in a row.
Auriemma felt the backbone to the negative opinion of the streak was gender-discriminatory.
He referenced Tiger Woods’ golf success and how nobody criticized that. Instead, his competitors had one option: “Everybody all of a sudden has to get better. So either you get better or you just keep letting people win,” Auriemma said.
“And if you just keep letting us win, then, it’s bad for the game. But I guarantee you, five years from now there will be a lot more good teams in America than there are today because of what we’re doing,” he continued. “Just like after we won the whole thing in 1995, there are a lot more programs doing what they’re doing now than there were back then.
“Somebody’s got to stand up and say, ‘I’ll be the bad guy.’ And right now I’m the bad guy. I’m the guy that everybody loves to beat … but everything goes away at some point. Everything changes. And when the change comes, it will be because somebody’s paid attention to what we’re doing and say, ‘You know what? That’s how I’m going to do it. I’m going to knock those guys off,” Auriemma said.
“And it could be this weekend. But it’s going to happen. And I would like t think that we’re going to help it happen, and that’s good for the game.”
But I must admit, even though I have a wonderful opportunity to have a courtside view as I scrutinize basketball games, even though I am being well-fed, and even though I am being introduced to some of the biggest names in the women’s basketball world, my absolute favorite part of this year’s Final Four probably comes as a surprise to most.
The thing that really makes me happy is the fact that there is a sports journalism workshop for young girls being conducted here.
Despite the fact that the print sector of journalism is frightfully shrinking and women aren’t “supposed” to be covering sports, the NCAA believes in the potential of the future.
The NCAA coordinated a day-long event that educates young girls and gets them excited to read press transcripts that contain such honest and motivating quotes such as the one I heard today. Technically speaking, I wasn’t so alone as a female first-timer with a credential.
So thanks again to the Guru for allowing me to witness one of my favorite sporting events from a different view.
I’ve already learned so much about myself and about the industry. I can confidently say this has been my favorite Final Four thus far and the games have yet to start.