A Painful Gift

By Carter Berry

Painful Gift Photo
Painful Gift Photo
What words can be used to describe feelings of Virginia winning a national championship? How can 22 years of UVA fandom culminate to one shining moment? (30 for 30 voice) What if I told you the most improbable loss in tournament history was the beginning of championship?

Growing up, the Hoos brought me happiness and heartbreak. In both football and basketball, seemingly, we would get so close to the top and then fail to follow through. This roller coaster of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, especially losing to UMBC, led to me having hardened heart of stone toward UVA. Sure I cared and was still a fan but I just wouldn’t get my hopes up. Why would I if they were destined to be crushed anyway? Well, destined to be crushed until the men’s basketball season of ‘18-‘19.

This team had aspirations of winning the final four and I did my best to join them in that, but, if I’m honest, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t be hurt like that again. We did all the usual UVA things in the regular season, win a share of the ACC title, be the most efficient defense in the country, and beat UNC soundly; however, there was something unique about this year....I could feel it as March rolled around.

We entered the NCAA tournament and the committee cruelly matched us up against ANOTHER 16 seed! I was numb for the first half as Gardner-Webb was up by as many as 14. Here we go again. But no, we faced this last year, this isn’t happening again. From that point on the Hoos went on to win 6 games in a row, not without flirting with defeat, against the nation’s best en route to cutting down the nets in Minneapolis where I was to witness history.

It was hard to celebrate with everyone because I didn’t know if it was real or not. Stressed beyond belief during regulation AND overtime the relief and joy for Tony and the boys finally came Tuesday morning where I woke up at 5:00 am and realized....WE DID IT!! NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!! It has a nice ring to it and soon so will this team that has changed my heart of stone to a heart of flesh that once again pumps blood of orange and blue.