WVU Seniors Leave Future in Good Hands - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Seniors Leave Future in Good Hands


There is only one team in the NCAA Tournament that leaves the court with a win. West Virginia's 76-67 final against LSU Tuesday night put the Mountaineers among the 63 other teams to end the women's version of Big Dance with a loss.

For five seniors, it was their last games wearing the gold and blue uniforms of the West Virginia University Mountaineers. No matter when they bowed out of the tournament, it would have been too soon compared to their goals, but the seniors say the loss to the Lady Tigers was especially hard to take.

"I hate it," said Christal Caldwell. "You're going to lose some ball games, but I know deep down in my heart that we did not play our best game and we did not do some of the things that I've seen us do all year long. Just to go out like that, it hurts."

Taylor Palmer, the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, fought back tears as she searched for the words to describe the feeling that swept through the locker room when she and her fellow seniors stepped off of the court for the final time.

"Miserable. Awful. All terrible words you can come up with," said Palmer. "It sucks that I'm not going to be playing with these girls anymore. These are like my sisters. I've been with most of them for four years, three years and even the younger girls, I've grown to have such a bond with them. I love them and I'm going to miss them."

It is the inevitability of collegiate sports. When a student-athlete plays his or her final game, it's difficult to understand where all of the time went. For the past four or five years, there was feeling of belonging and a structure in their lives. The uncertainty of the future can be scary, especially with the knowledge that as quickly as paths can merge, they can split off again.

Tuesday night, in that locker room at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, West Virginia's seniors stood face to face with that uncertainty. The idea of saying goodbye to their teammates was not one they expected to come so soon.

The loss still fresh in her mind, Brooke Hampton tried to explain what her fellow seniors have meant to her as a player and as a person since she arrived at West Virginia University.

"Coming in, I was hesitant, I was just getting my feet wet, I didn't really know what the whole college experience was about," said Hampton. "Now, looking back on the four years, I love these girls and I just appreciate them so much because we go to battle every day. I know that we're the hardest working team out there and I just love them. They'll do anything for me and I'll do anything for them."

Saying goodbye to a senior class must be one of the most bittersweet feelings associated with the job of a head coach. There is pride to see the high school seniors from the recruiting trail grown into young women with on-court accomplishments and degrees before they leave the program. But that truth does nothing to ease the sting of their departure.

"It's tough right now because I feel we gave one away there," said WVU coach Mike Carey. "Seniors have done a great job. Not just this year, but since they've been here. I'm very proud of them. It's just tough right now, for them and for myself."

The program takes a big hit, certainly, with the loss of these five seniors. Not only are their careers over, but so is the production they brought to the Mountaineers in the years that they dedicated to the game.

Players like Averee Fields, who stays behind as she begins preparation for her senior season, understand just what sort of impact the seniors had on the current group as well as the future once they're gone.

"I definitely think they led in every way, especially their work ethic," Fields said of the senior class. "They did a great job with this team this year and I think we fought for them and that we all pulled together. I definitely will credit all of them [for our success]."

It isn't as though the cupboard is bare after this season. Carey lauded his team's depth since before the first game tipped off and that depth should set WVU up well for next season. Three starters return for 2014-15 and a strong recruiting class is set to invade Morgantown in the summer.

West Virginia will welcome three freshmen and two junior college transfers in an effort to replace the production the team loses with these five seniors' departure. The recruiting class is ranked as one of the top 20 nationally.

Those newcomers will be able to walk into the Coliseum next year and see a trophy and a banner representing a regular season Big 12 Championship. They will know that the program record for wins in a single season is 30.

They will know that Asya Bussie, Christal Caldwell, Taylor Palmer, Brooke Hampton and Jess Harlee were the seniors who helped orchestrate it all.  

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVILL. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.