As I entered the arena my mind was hard at work, making sure I completed all my tasks before game time. The usual things like; making sure I put my left shoe on before my right (I am a tad bit superstitious), brushing my hair into a tight bun on the top of my head, and reassuring myself I packed enough snacks to last us the entire game. I entered through the tunnel as if I was a player and shuffled around the bench. Charlotte was a little fussy, but that was to be expected. My hands were so sweaty already, so I let CJ's hand go and he ventured off to find his friends and our seats. There were about two more hours before tip off, but my heart was already racing.
Uncertainty was a huge factor this game. Chris had missed the previous game due to an ankle injury and he had been up and down all week. This was the last game his parents would see before they left and my anxiety was at an all time high. We needed to win this game! Our other point guard was out with a back injury and Chris wasn't one hundred percent. I took off my jacket once we arrived at our seats and smoothed out my yellow jersey as if I was going to play. I was ready.
Since we have been in Italy playing in Serie A, Pallacanestro Reggiana has been a tough club to beat. This season they featured five Italian National team players and ranked high in the standings. We needed this win. We needed to stay in the race for the eighth seed. CJ played on the side of the court while Chris and his teammates prepared themselves before the game.
The crowd began to fill up the arena quickly as time continued to run off the clock, before I knew it, the national anthem began to play. I stood up with Charlotte strapped to my chest in her carrier and CJ on my left standing next to his friend. I angled myself toward the Italian flag, glanced at Chris, and closed my eyes. In my head, I began to pray- as usual.
Ten players made their way to the center of the court and shook hands before the game. There were five red and five yellow. The game began and my heart sunk into my stomach. All I could do was hope Chris's ankle would hold up through out the game. We were off to a great start. Our team had been practicing well all week and it showed on the court that night. They were in total control; offensively and defensively. They truly looked like a championship team. After the first quarter, I felt a little more relieved.
The game was intense from start to finish! The crowd roared and the sound of drums echoed throughout the arena. I was up on my feet every other play; either yelling at the referees for making a terrible call or cheering on our team making an awesome play. CJ played away on his ipad, occasionally glancing up and cheering for his dad. My poor Charlotte attempted to fall asleep several times, but my loud cheering kept her awake.
The game ended and we won! It was pure relief. I could finally rest and my anxiety completely left my body. I was exhausted from cheering. I felt like I had just played forty minutes. Our team made their way around the arena clapping and thanking the fans for their hard work they put in as well. I winked at Chris and motioned for him to ice his ankle once he got to the locker room. The job was done. Chris's parents got to see an exciting game while visiting us, we won, and Chris's ankle seemed as though it was on the road to recovery. I wiped my forehead with my hand that was still a little jittery from the adrenaline pumping through my body during the game. Now that this game was done, we had to start preparing for the next. Today, they are away playing Sassari! This is another big game for us! Let's go Aux! Forza Torino :).
Pictures were taken by Walter Bertagnoli