Final thoughts from Women's NCAAs
__FLOATING ALONG THE CUMBERLAND RIVER, TENN.--__In my job covering college golf, I don't pull for any particular team or individual to succeed. For one thing, it's not good for business--you try getting somebody to return a phone call if he or she thinks you're a little too cozy with the enemy. Plus the moment you start wishing for a particular outcome is the moment you've guaranteed it won't come true. Nope, I'll stick to being Switzerland, thank you very much.
That said, there is something I root for at every tournament I cover: a good story. It's why the 31st NCAA Women's Championship will be one I remember for a while. There wasn't just one fun tale to tell from last Friday's finish at Vanderbilt Legends Club but a few.
I honestly believe Potter when he told me he didn't feel like he had to win a national championship to consider his career complete. But I also believe what his good friend Dan Brooks, the Duke women's coach who owns five championships rings and is set to play a host of great golf courses with him in Scotland this coming week, told me just before the handed out the trophy on Friday.
"Everyone likes to win," Brooks said. "You don't want to coach your career and do it the way he's done it, and not win a national championship. That would be painful."
While I don't root for individuals to succeed, that doesn't mean I can't be happy for those that do. That's the case with Potter, who has been a valuable source of knowledge to me about the college game. I appreciate the time he has given so that I can have a better understanding of what coaching a golf team is actually like. I also appreciate that when he has disagreed with me on things I've written, he has been honest in letting me know and willing to agree to disagree without holding it against me.
With vindication having come his way, the decision in the summer of 2005 to leave Furman after more than 20 years coaching there and take the Alabama job, convinced he could turn the Crimson Tide program into a national power, is still no less a gamble today than it was at the start of last week. He already was in the NGCA Hall of Fame and could have stayed with the Lady Paladins for as long as he wanted. But a new challenge, and the opportunity that it presented, was too tantalizing to turn down. It's a message he's been able to share with every player he's recruited to Tuscaloosa: I was willing to take the risk to be at Alabama. Are you?
And now that his risk has been rewarded, well that's just plain cool.
A few other thoughts as I sit on a boat with some family friends in the 95-degree heat before flying off to Los Angeles for the NCAA men's championship:
"If it had been the last day, maybe I'd be more [upset]," Lewellen said with no hesitation. "But because it was the first day, this could have put fire in their belly. Who knows, if this hadn't happened we might have finished 10th."
That's a healthy attitude to take.
I pass this along not to bring you down, but to get you thinking. Don't take for granted the time you've spent playing college golf, the education it's helped you receive and the friendships that it's allowed you to make. They're wonderful. Use them to make the most of every day.