Commentary

Keeping It Fun

Originally Published: February 5, 2009
By Casey Morris | Special to ESPN HoopGurlz

Man, man, man, you have not seen anything if you haven't experienced the feeling of a Stanford vs. Cal game. It's the Battle of the Bay, the biggest game of the season, the game nobody misses. When walking into the gym you see nothing but big pockets of sections wearing blue, gold or red. It is crazy, ladies and gentlemen. Before the game, I only had heard about the hype and saw a game last year, while standing in the nose bleed section. But to actually play in the game this year was the most exciting feeling I've experienced in my life.

Casey Morris & Alexis Gray-Lawson
Courtesy of Cal AthleticsCasey Morris gets her flex on while mocking Alexis Gray-Lawson who is enjoying a marshmellow.

When we entered the gym to start warming up, Mooch (Rachelle Federico) warned me before I stepped foot on the floor that I would feel the tension and the pulse of the fans. She was right. There were more than 10,000 people there. It was almost as if I could feel the gym moving as the fans chanted, screamed and cheered. The game was great all the way through and Alexis Gray-Lawson went off. She had 37 points and played in the zone throughout the whole game.

So far we are doing great and are 9-0 in the Pac-10 Conference. We have completed the first half of the season and all we have to do is keep up the intensity and finish the second half strong. I feel a lot more comfortable now playing in games and I am having a blast in each game. As time goes on, I am steadily getting adjusted to the college style of play and I am starting to understand the changes that come along with the transition from high school.

After our last game against USC at home, Coach Joanne Boyle thought we needed to have a fun "practice." She wants to make sure we stay relaxed and remember to enjoy the sport as it sometimes gets a little overwhelming. In place of practice we had the "Bear Olympics." The "Bear Olympics" consisted of racing up and down the court, trying to balance an egg on a spoon held in your mouth; the most marshmallows transferred from one end of the court to the other only using your mouth; spinning on a bat and getting dizzy, then putting on a football uniform with pads at the opposite end of the court; pin the tail on the donkey, and knocking down a pretty cool looking piñata that was hanging from the rim. I think my team definitely won the competitions.

Casey Morris
Courtesy of Cal AthleticsA blindfolded Casey Morris takes direction from Devenai Hampton.

Devanei Hampton dominated in the marshmallow-stuffing contest. She had to have over 25 marshmallows in her mouth at one point. Yea, I know it's impressive. She also thought she was soooo funny when she tricked me into pinning the tail 10 yards away from where my donkey was while she was directing me as I was blindfolded (ha ha, very funny). In the end, when the piñata split open, Mooch and I made sure we got a majority of the candy as we dove on the court over the candy and used our whole bodies to cover what we wanted.

Life off the court is going well. All of my classes are very interesting and way better than the classes I took last semester. My favorite so far is history class. We discuss African American history, emancipation, and listen to music of popular artists with strong lyrics demonstrating African American history and the struggles. A majority of the times when we are not on the court or in class, we (the team) are hanging out together at Ashley (Walker)'s or LG's (Lauren Greif) house where we always have a blast. We do things like play Catch Phrase or Twister. Or sometimes we'll just listen to music and kick it.

The past couple weeks have taught me to compete every minute of every day in order to succeed in college, but do not forget to balance all the hard work with lots of fun!

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Casey Morris is a columnist for ESPN HoopGurlz writing about her experiences as a freshman on basketball scholarship at the University of California. A 5-foot-9 combo guard out of Piedmont, Calif., Morris was named to the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred and a top 10 point guard in the class after leading her team to a 21-6 record during her senior season at Piedmont High School. She was invited to the USA Basketball U-18 trials in June 2007.