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NCAA March Madness Brings Hope: How student-athletes and teams showcase important lessons.

I sit here writing this after a crazy first weekend of the NCAA tournament. I sit here thinking what this tournament has meant to me and what it could inspire me to do going forward. When you dissect a team there are many components that make it a truly special experience. March madness brings out a microcosm of the college experience displayed by the involved student-athletes, coaches, and fans. I say this because my college and young professional experiences have been shaped by this great tournament.

Starting in the spring of 2010, I was an admitted student at Butler University, I had been invited to go to a men’s basketball game (January 2010) to see campus one-more-time before enrolling to Butler. In this experience, I had seen a great game, great atmosphere and most importantly how the basketball team enhanced the mission set out at Butler.

The next time I came to campus, I came for registration which ever so happened in a time where Butler had been making a run in the NCAA tournament. March 27, 2010, was the day and there were so many vivid moments that resonate with me still to this day. Butler was a #5 seed in the NCAA tournament but had overcome adversity finishing ranked in the top 15 before selection Sunday. Butler being a #5 seed had been flying under the radar because of the conference they had come from, which probably added to their motivation and tournament aspirations. Butler’s campus was electric, so much so that individuals I had come across who didn’t know the basketball players personally, yet advocated for them as great role models and ambassadors for the institution. I started watching the game and I had seen the improvement in play since I last saw them in January and had made goals to accomplish their dreams. What I learned from this experience, was how to be resilient, focus a passion, dream to achieve, being a part of something bigger than yourself, and effective communication. This 2010 Butler University Men’s basketball team imparted many lessons on me as well as showcasing what it meant to be a student-athlete. At that time, Butler had been a part of the Horizon League and the league’s mission is to aspire toward its goal of being one of the nation’s leading athletics conferences while being recognized as a leader in the development of student-athletes as leaders and role models. These attributes were showcased a lot during telecasts referencing that Butler’s athletes were truly student first and athletes second (notably going to class on game-day no matter the game), which stood out to me having a family member attend an institution where they had some athletes get in trouble and not focus on their college dreams. Furthermore, at registration it was the day of the Elite 8 game for Butler, riding a 23-game winning streak, playing to have a chance to continue their pursuit of their dream in winning a national championship. At this juncture, I saw a group of students who embodied success on and off the basketball court that would transcend the university and its community. The 2010 team made it all the way to the national championship game before losing to Duke University. Even though the team did not win, the team showed me what a Butler student was/is all about and how to approach goals. I still to this day approach things as that team did and all parties involved that shaped my outlook in pursuit of personal and professional goals.

Takeaway: College athletics act as a point of reference, that showcases how a particular student(s) within the university can approach, act and execute in any scenario faced during their college career.

Looking at the 2016 NCAA tournament, it’s important to garner key messages from the institutions involved as they showcase what it means to be a student-athlete at their school. From how they are supported by their coaches, teammates, institution and student body and how they go about having a mindset that enables them to reach their goals. On the other hand, the tournament showcases how the student-athletes deal with adversity in a loss and how the student-athletes and other students can approach road blocks in achieving their goals.

I have pinpointed key traits that teams involved with this tournament have encountered through their seasons to this point. What I am getting at here is that it’s important to absorb these traits and takeaways throughout the rest of the tournament and pinpoint the exact moments that that can be used to motivate you to achieve your goals no matter if you are a student-athlete or not. The University of Northern Iowa showcases my point exactly. JUST CLICK AND WATCH.

  • Honesty
  • Resiliency
  • Determination (Passion)
  • Dream
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Motivation
  • Honor

By absorbing these traits, it will empower you to set goals and accomplish them in a manner that your classmates, professors, supervisors and others will be prideful in your accomplishments, develop into the person you strive to be and make your college experience unforgettable while accomplishing your dreams no matter the obstacle (or team).