Watching Big 12 phenom and her team create history in the Final Four
Special contribution by:
Lisa Pelofsky, President & CEO
Pelofsky & Associates
March is my favorite month of the year and not just because it is the month I was born. There is far more to celebrate than just my birthday, especially this year. For those of you who are fans of women’s basketball, the name Brittney Griner is synonymous with Kareem, Magic and Michael because of her incredible shot blocking, offensive scoring, and her overall athleticism.
Brittney is a modern day phenom. For those of you who caught the regional NCAA tournament game against Tennessee where Brittney threw down a two handed dunk that would have made Dr. J smile, you know what I am talking about.
During this past season, Brittney’s fan base has grown exponentially and in every city and on every campus, fans gathered before and after Baylor played to try to get an autograph, a photo or a high five.
My favorite Brittney fan experience had to be in Des Moines when I wandered into the lobby of the host hotel and found fans gathering a few hours before Bears were getting game against Tennessee. I noticed there were two young men in their twenties sitting on a couch and each had 8x10 glossy photos of Brittney during a game.
I asked them if they were going to the game and they said they were. One of them had just returned from Tennessee’s hotel and explained that he had just met Coach Pat Summit. He said he shook her hand and was humbled by the opportunity to meet her in person. I was slightly stunned by his passionate words and did a double take to make sure he was being sincere. Yes, definitely sincere. These two men were enormous fans of the women’s game. They planned on sitting there for several hours in hopes of getting Brittney’s attention for a minute or so.
I asked them what they planned to do with the photos if she signed them thinking perhaps they would end up on eBay or in some fan shop, but no, these guys planned to frame the photos and put them up on their walls next to their other heroes.
Just as I was walking away, a third friend of theirs came rushing in wearing his auto mechanic shirt with a name sewn over the pocket and he was carrying a laminated poster that said “Believe.” Anxiously he asked the other two if he had missed “her” and they told him he was right on time.
His hands were still smudged with oil as he had raced over from work. I asked him about the poster and he said it was all he could find, but thought it was fitting for her to sign. I headed out the lobby door and walked to the arena to catch the first of the double header that day so I never found out if the three of them met their hero that day, but knowing that Brittney entertained the crowd later that day with her incredible dunk I am sure they were as pleased as I was to be there.
Fast forward to the night of the national championship -- I am sitting in the Pepsi Center arena in Denver, watching the last few seconds tick off the clock before history is made in front of my eyes. Baylor secures win number 40 against a very talented and classy Notre Dame team. The celebration begins, the confetti falls and I rush down towards the first row of seats to get a courtside view of the activities. I feel so fortunate to have watched this Baylor team from Brittney’s first days until the undefeated record-setting season and championship title. The entire country has now caught the excitement from Brittney’s performances and the best part of the whole experience is that Brittney is only a junior, so we have another year to look forward to.
Lisa Pelofsky is President and CEO of Pelofsky & Associates.
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