By: Marshall Wood ’17
There are times in your life when all of a sudden everything that comes after isn’t the same as what came before.
Something is different. And you can’t go back. It’s not quite a resounding bang; more of a quiet all-encompassing realization.
I’ve had two major moments like this in my college career.
The first came after my sophomore year at Virginia Tech. We had a new coach coming in, marking the third different coach since I had been recruited there.
I had formed some great relationships there, but with yet another staff, it just didn’t feel like home anymore. That was a hard time because everyone wanted answers, and honestly I didn’t know the answer right then. I said that I was tired of basketball.
Looking back now, I realized that I didn’t have a lot of maturity in that moment. I wasn’t tired of basketball. Basketball was still a game that I wanted to pour my heart and soul into. I was just tired of questions that I couldn’t answer. I was tired of not feeling at home.
That time gave me an opportunity to examine what a basketball home really meant to me. From the beginning of my recruitment and even when I committed to Virginia Tech, Coach Mooney and Coach Brunt were supportive of me and my decisions. They supported me even when I didn’t choose to come to UR. At that moment, that feeling of support meant a lot to me, so I reached back out to the UR coaching staff and decided to transfer here.
My second moment came this offseason. Last year, I had some big games with my shooting, but I knew that I wasn’t consistent enough. We set goals for our team for this year, and in order for us to reach them, I have to play a more balanced game.
It wasn’t an overnight change. And I’m not all of a sudden a completely different player. But the more that I set my mind to improving my dribbling and passing and defense combined with the encouragement from my teammates and coaches, the more I saw changes and improvements. Which fed my desire to work even harder.
I just came to understand that this is my last go around, and you can’t just talk about being better. You have to go out and work on it everyday.
By the end of the summer, we were blessed with the opportunity to travel abroad to Europe. I went into that trip wanting to experience everything that I could and not take it for granted. I’m a history person at heart, and it was humbling for me to go to places where so many sacrifices were made in war and where cultural traditions are so different from what I’ve seen my whole life.
When I was younger, I may not have cared that much about this museum or that river or this city, but I recognized how blessed we all were to get to see it all. Not everyone gets that chance. I hoped that some of the young guys saw that and maybe paid attention even when they were tired.
This offseason, I recognized what maturity can look like. The sacrifices you have to make to be good at this game, and the difficult things you must do to be a leader.
As this final season starts on Friday, I know that it is one final chance to further goals that I’ve held all my life. I want to help this team win a championship. I want to be able to keep playing basketball after I earn a degree. I want to know that I didn’t leave anything left on the court.
It won’t be easy. I’m not the best player I can be today. Because I’m working to be even better tomorrow. And the day after.
Last year, when I was speaking with the media one day, I talked about the power of the phrase One Richmond. It’s printed on shirts and the logo is everywhere around campus. But those two words aren’t just a phrase for us. It’s not cliché. We’re a family. And right now, this is the closest basketball family I’ve ever been a part of. I’m relying on these guys. And they’re relying on me.
On Friday, there’s no going back. This is it.