To the 2006-2007 UCLA Men's Basketball Team,
I know we all wanted to go into March Madness with much more momentum than with what we have right now. However, we can't change the past. We can only learn from our mistakes. Plus, I know that each of you has about two new openings, courtesy of Coach Howland.
While I know you have all the motivation in the world, I just thought I would write this letter to give you a tad more.
First, I have to give you a little background about me. I cannot remember any part of my life where I was not a rabid UCLA fan, student or alumna. When I was about ten years old, my dad took out an old 7Up bottle which the final scores of all of Coach Wooden's championship games. My dad told me about that magical time between 1967 and 1973 when we had a monopoly on college basketball, and how we won every year my uncle was a student. He told me how he and my mom should have gotten married and had me earlier so that I could have enjoyed those times. He then told me that the 7Up bottle will be mine one day.
In 1995, I was able to experience my first UCLA championship. While I wouldn't give up those memories for anything, it didn't feel complete. I was a high school junior at the time, not yet an official member of the UCLA family. Never mind, I thought. I'll have mine one day.
Well, I never got further than the Elite 8 as a student. I became the first member of my family who did not experience a basketball championship as a UCLA student (my cousin was a freshman in 1995). For a long time, it felt like we would never compete on the national level again.
When Coach Howland came to Westwood, I knew we would regain our greatness. Last year, I thought if we got to the Sweet 16, it would be a very successful year. Then came Gonzaga. After that game, I knew that all the pieces had fallen into place. We were back.
Yes, we came up one game short last year, but there is no shame in that. I waited seven long months until I could see you play again. I knew it was going to be a fun year, and you exceeded those expectations. I attended the Washington game this year with my fiance, and both of us commented on how loud Pauley was. It was the most fun I had at a basketball game since we beat Southern Cal in 1997.
So now, I have a favor to ask you. I need you to win it all this year. This summer, I am going to be moving out of Los Angeles, and away from Westwood, something I haven't experienced since I was in high school. I am going to be about 2,000 miles away, and I won't be able to celebrate any championships in person. In 1995, I watched on TV as some lucky students crowded into Pauley and celebrated our championship. I promised myself that would be me one day. It might be delayed, but better late than never. If we don't win this year, I don't know if I will ever be able to experience celebrating with about 13,000 of my closest friends. The time is now.
I don't remember if it was Ed O'Bannon or Cameron Dollar who said that he could go into Pauley, look up in the rafters at the 1995 championship, and say to himself, "Yep, I helped put that there." Now it's your chance to rise to the level of Alcindor, Goodrich, and Walton. This is your chance to add one more banner to the hallowed rafters, something you will be able to look at many years from now.
In closing, I thank you for all the joy and fun you have given me this year. Not only are you guys incredibly talented, you have represented the UCLA family with class and dignity. No matter who is the last team standing on April 2, I know that I will be proud to be a Bruin.
Play your game and no one will beat you.
With all my Bruin Love,
Bruin Babe 2000