Mississippi 48, Florida 43

Florida fell to the Ole Miss Rebels on Wednesday in the opening round of the SEC Tournament to end the season for the Gators.

I could give a standard recap on this game, but I don’t think now is the right time. Instead, I’d like to reflect and think about the many positives. So, here is a letter to the entire program:

To whom it may concern;

First and foremost, I want to say thank you. Following and covering this team has been the opportunity of a lifetime. This experience (covering a team that I’ve always been passionate about) has been something I never envisioned, though something I had always hoped for.

Last year I was sitting in the stands during SEC play oftentimes my voice grew hoarse complaining about the officiating. At least one time I had an official eye me down as if to say, “c’mon man!”

Ms. Cafazzo, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity you presented me. I truly enjoyed this and really loved hearing about your decades of experience.

Coach Cam, thanks so much. Without our first conversations via Twitter (and your candor with the fans) this would never have happened. I truly believe in the direction of your program and look forward to engaging more during the press conferences throughout next season.

To the players, thanks for not calling me out when I asked silly questions. I was told there are no dumb questions, but I don’t think I believe that and I am sure I made my share.

To the seniors, thanks for laying the foundation for the underclassmen. Your relentless effort is something that made every night special regardless of the result.

Good times are coming. I truly believe that.

How it happened:

Although I had started this blog prior to the 2016-17 season, I actually had very little direction with the exception that I wanted to put a heavy emphasis on women’s sports.

Don’t get me wrong. I love football, men’s basketball, and baseball as much as anyone else. But there is something special about attending the women’s sports here. Too often the men’s programs seem to be run like a business. Many of the fans are so far away from the action that they don’t feel a part of what is happening on the field/court. It’s the exact opposite with the women’s programs.

I got lucky. I reached out to new head coach Cameron Newbauer prior to the start of the season seeking an interview via Twitter. I had serious doubts that he would even see my tweet. He did. He referred me to Kathy Cafazzo and we arranged an interview.

I had no idea what I was doing. I was expecting to message him a few questions and have him send back answers, I did not think I’d be able to meet him. I was a nervous wreck. In fact, I was so nervous that I had a friend join me for the interview so I couldn’t back out.

I was able to ask coach a few questions prior to the team’s open practice / fan day event. It was so informal and confortable, I really appreciated that. Ms Cafazzo then offered me credentials for the games. I didn’t even know how that worked, but was absolutely thrilled.

I decided to make this a learning experience. I wanted to watch everything and see how it was handled by the other press members and learn from there. I was so scared to ask a dumb question that I rarely asked anything.

I really feared Christmas break when I was the only one in the room to ask questions. Fortunately, Ms Cafazzo would ask questions so it wasn’t crickets / uncomfortable the entire time.

All in all this experience was amazing and I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to everyone involved in this program.

This opportunity has also opened the door to others. I am now credentialed for gymnastics, softball, and lacrosse. I feel much more comfortable doing these than I did just a few months ago. The women’s basketball program will always have a special place in my heart thanks to opening these doors for me.

I can’t wait for next season! Go Gators!

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