With my speech coming up in the very near future, I wanted to post my current draft of my speech to get any feedback any of you might have. This is about my fourth draft, however many of the previous drafts were specific parts of the speech, which I have now tried to mush together into one. The part that I would really love feedback on, is the middle body section, after the intro, but before the conclusion. I am particularly having difficulty getting that area to flow well. Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Here it is:
” We were up by 5 with less than a minute remaining, a spot to the world championships on the line. Puerto Rico races up the floor and makes a quick layup. The clock keeps ticking down. We bring the ball up the court, and put a shot up. It misses. Puerto Rico gets the ball, and calls a timeout. The girls come in to the huddle. I tell them to stay calm, don’t foul, and play good defense, just don’t foul. They go back out onto the floor and execute what I asked perfectly, we’re up by three. Puerto Rico puts up a bad shot, and the girls go to rebound. But somehow, the ball bounces into the hands of the Puerto Rican three point shooter; she puts it up, and drains the three. The game is tied. With just seconds left, Teresa gets the ball and looks over at me. I didn’t have a timeout in because I didn’t think we would need it, I look at her and shrug, and motion for her to just go. She knows exactly what I mean.
As the clock expires, Teresa scores at the buzzer to send us to worlds, saving my butt again. As all the girls race onto the floor cheering her, I think to myself thank goodness for Teresa today. She’s done that so many times before, just made any coaching blunders go away, but this was pretty special.
The first time I saw Teresa, you could tell there was something inside her that loved the game. As a kid she grew up loving sports, she played tennis, roller hockey and on a daily basis my husband Mike would see her playing across the road from the high school he taught at. He would see her from his classroom window after school playing roller hockey with guys way older than her; but she was always having fun.
I would see her at camps and different basketball clinics. From the beginning, she had a true passion for basketball, and loved to play. I don’t know what caused her to be so motivated towards the game, but from an early age it was clear she loved it. The one thing that was very apparent when she played was that she had fun. And that’s the most important thing about basketball, or any sport, you do it because you love it. But even so, she played volleyball all throughout high school alongside her basketball, and it wasn’t until university that she chose to solely pursue the basketball game.
Following her career at Heritage Park Secondary in Mission, I recruited her to attend Simon Fraser University, where I was the coach at the time. Obviously I’d known her for a long time, but as a university coach, there were only certain times we were allowed to call players for recruiting. I called several times, but I would always get her mom, and she would say something like, Oh Teresa’s in the bath, or She’s in the shower. I started to wonder how somebody could bathe that much. Teresa was never really one for publicity or attention, in fact she is really quite an introverted person. Fortunately, in time, she came to the conclusion that SFU would be the right place for her. It was close to home and family, which I think was very important to her, and she would get immediate playing time. I also agreed to coach her for all four years of her career there. It turned out she would actually play five years at SFU as the school switched, in her fourth year, from NAIA to CIS, and I wouldn’t be her coach for her fifth year. But even so, once she had made the decision, she came at the university game in full force. In her senior season she burst the scene wide open recording 45 points in a game against trinity western university, the still standing points in a game record for the SFU women’s program, and was named the CIS defensive player of the year.
Remarkably, she attended the 2000 Sydney Olympics at only 20 years of age and still in university. She continued to play on the national team, as those Olympics would be the beginning of a legendary career to follow. Or at least what I think deserves to be known as legendary.
What was most remarkable however, was not in fact what she did, but how she did it. Being the quiet person that she was, she didn’t want to stray far from home. When she was playing on the National team early on, and was the youngest player on the team, they were over in Europe on a trip one time. The team had all sorts of nick names for her like ‘Young fry’ or ‘Stir fry’, and one night, she called me. She said to me, “Allison, I think I’m going to come home.” Just outright like that. And I said “No you’re not.” “but,” she said, “I don’t like it.” “Well,” I said, “nobody likes it when they go over there for the first time, not knowing anyone, the food is different, away from home.” I thought to myself, oh no, such a great player, I hope this isn’t going to end it all. But being the person she is, she toughed it out. So you can imagine what happened when she went over to Europe to try playing professionally in the offseason after university. She felt uncomfortable and didn’t like being away from home, so that didn’t last. Another time, we got it set up for her to go to a WNBA tryout in Portland. Mike went down with her, and his report was good. He told me she was clearly the best guard there. One coach actually pulled his guard out of the tryout after a couple of hours because Teresa was completely annihilating her. Mike said, she could have played at that level if she wanted to, but again, she didn’t want to spend so much time away from family and she had some health problems that would make it difficult to play year round; but most importantly, she saw the WNBA as a distraction. So instead, in order to pursue her National team career, she did it all herself. She never gave up on her pursuit; her pursuit of basketball, her pursuit of a career on the national team, and the pursuit of getting to another Olympics. (EMPHASIS)
Every year, she would continue with a crazy and treacherous routine to maintain her basketball. Each day, in the offseason, she would rise at 3:30 in the morning, to go to work. She worked at her parents’ bakery in her hometown of Mission, and still does to this day. She would work a shift till around 8 in the morning loading and delivering stocks and then go to her mom’s house for breakfast. After her meal, she would head to the gym to train. Later, she’d take a nap to refresh for round two. Again, she would go to work for another shift, and then head to the gym for another workout. On an average day she would be working out around 5 hours, and working a full time job. Her passion and commitment to the game are really unexplainable and are really what allowed her and pushed her to keep going for so long.
Going through the journey with her was truly amazing. We both learnt from each other. In our time together at SFU, I was a young coach, and she was a developing athlete, I think we both helped each other, as I had formerly played the point guard position in my playing days, and she was helping me learn things about the game as well. A lot of people said that she wouldn’t be able to compete at the international level, without playing professionally, or that she was too short to play at that level, as she was only 5’5, about my height. But her love for the game proved them wrong.
It was only suiting that in 2012 she got to finish at the Olympics in London, where she had so desperately wanted to get back to after all those years. It was such a joy qualifying with her in Turkey on Canada Day, I will never forget that. Running up to her after the game, just having been with her so long, through so much. And then the Olympics themselves. As I think Teresa would agree, if you’re not an athlete and you haven’t actually been in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, walking in with all the other athletes from your country, you don’t know what it feels like.
Our final game in London, was a blowout loss in the quarterfinals to the eventual gold medallists in the U.S., but what I remember from it was how special it was to be there with her. That being the best finish ever for Canada at the Olympics, and knowing that that was the end of her outstanding career. It was such an emotional experience, and such an amazing journey. I think she really deserves a lot more credit than she gets for what she did. Through all the highs and the lows, she really changed the face of women’s basketball in Canada, and now girls all around the country look up to her. Walking off the court with her after that game, is something I will never forget. ”
Still working on it, getting certain areas more concise and to flow well together.
I have also recently completed two interviews for the project: I was very lucky to interview Allison McNeill, who was a former coach of Teresa Gabriele for 16+ years, along with many other personal achievements herself, and she is also who I am writing my speech in the perspective of. Oh did I not mention that earlier? I was also very lucky to interview my actual eminent person herself! Yes, Teresa Gabriele, in person! There will be more information on these interviews in my upcoming interview post. However, below are a few preview pictures of what you can look forward to: