International Studies student & USF basketball player Kalyn Simon (BAIS ’16, MAIS ’17) shines on and off the court

We are so proud of our USF women’s basketball team for making the NCAA playoffs this year! We are especially proud of International Studies student Kalyn Simon for both her work with the team as well as her dedication to International Studies!

Kalyn CLose Up

Essay by Kalyn Simon

As child I grew up watching basketball. My cousins, Dad, Grandpa, and I would gather around the television yelling play by play as if we were actually sitting in the stands. The Warriors have always been a family favorite, however March was always a special time of the year. March Madness was when the best of the best competed for the national championship. The tournament was for both men’s and women’s teams so there were constantly games for us to watch. It was pure magic watching such talented and driven athletes preform at their prime in pursuit of the NCAA championship. Entering the “Big Dance” is an experience athletes dream about their entire collegiate careers. The conditioning sessions at six in the morning were all for the glory of cutting down the nets and playing under the big lights of the NCAA.

This year instead of yelling at the television screen, my family was yelling in the stands. Winning our West Coast Conference Championship was one of the most memorable and exciting experiences I have had. As the final buzzer sounded in Las Vegas our team sprinted out onto the court and embraced one another. Smiles engulfed each player’s, coach’s, and USF fan’s faces as confetti fell from the ceiling and we each kissed the enormous golden trophy. In this moment, I along with my amazing teammates was floating on cloud nine. The only thing better than cutting down the nets that day was the realization that we were “going dancing” or headed to participate in the NCAA tournament.

From that moment on I felt invincible. I received texts and emails from my professors from the International Studies department and the greater USF community. I felt so proud to be able to represent my major and my school. The next week we found out we would be playing against Stanford. We practiced and prepared the entire week for the upcoming opponent. We approached the game as any other, but in the background we could not help but smile. We smiled knowing that together through the blood, sweat, and tears we had finally reached the next level.

Kalyn Simon Fan Club

The outcome on the scoreboard at Stanford was not in our favor, but it is an experience I will cherish for a lifetime. I am blessed to have been able to play alongside teammates just as driven and talented as the ones I admired on television fifteen years ago. It was an experience built on the hard work and endless belief of in our staff and players who refused to give up. Just as I had imagined as a child, walking onto that court under the big lights was pure magic. However this is not the end. We will continue to fight until we end up on the winning end of the NCAA tournament, a tournament of champions.

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