Greetings everyone! I’m currently on my way back from the Belfast Classic – the amazing college basketball tournament Sport Changes Life hosted. After years of preparation, the 2-day event was a massive success. It was the first time that American college basketball teams came over to play in Northern Ireland. Aside from watching some great games and seeing fellow scholars, what made it extra special of a weekend for me was that the men’s team from my alma-mater, Holy Cross, was playing in the tournament and my sisters (including my honorary, Clare) came over to visit!
Even though I’m going home in just under a month now, it was unbelievably nice to see people from good old Massachusetts. Despite not being able to hang out with HCMBB (go Saders) that much due to CBS Sports Network duties before and during the games (will explain shortly), the tournament became a refreshing and comforting collision of what, until this point, seemed like my two separate worlds. Having to essentially pinch myself every day to realize that yes, I’ve been living, studying, coaching, and playing in Cork for three months now, Holy Cross entering this “Irish” section of my life has made it that much more of a wild and beautiful reality.
The event itself was a great time. Dawning our all-access passes, all the scholars were involved in set up of the arena, the pre-game “fan zone”, and various activities during the games — from sumo suit control to stat running. I *somehow* got roped into being the “stage manager” for the CBS Sports Network announcers. Having no idea what that meant I quickly agreed and soon found myself with a courtside seat at the CBS media desk and a headset.
My role was listening to the producer’s calls for a certain numbered cue card in a big pile of 50, then handing Dave Ryan the card for him to then talk about in an upcoming TV segment. Although I felt vastly under qualified and slightly panicked, it was a hilarious and very cool experience that even involved a few clips of my shoulder on LIVE TV and silent fist pumps with the CBS announcers (perks, right).
Anyway, the tournament was a great experience and clearly a huge step in not just making basketball more popular in Ireland, but in (warning, extremely corny) changing people’s lives through sport. These inspiring few days have been topped off with a perfect case of Irish generosity — the Irish National U18 women’s team letting me hitch a lift in their coach bus back to Dublin after they got honored for their performance this past summer at the European tournament (shoutout to all of you — and thanks again Amy).
It’s definitely become one of my favorite weekends so far this year. Even though I am extremely busy and nearing the stress breaking point with finals, projects, and completing all of my responsibilities before Christmas, as Father Rogers (the holy cross team chaplain) said while I was chatting with him about what I would possibly want to do with my life, “life isn’t about working, it’s about living.” Amidst my crazy schedule, all of these activities — spending time with my sisters, the Holy Cross men’s team, all of the kids, and being able to take part in the first of what is sure to be a powerful annual Irish basketball tradition –have been welcome reminders that this year isn’t so much about the work, but the exciting and rewarding life I’m living over here across the pond.