This past week and a half has changed my life. On January 19, 2004, at 11:25 in the morning, I received an urgent call from the Cal women's basketball office telling me to come in ASAP. I hopped into the car and arrived at Haas in five minutes and jogged to the office. In my mind I was thinking of reasons why I had been called in earlier then usual for practice. Did I miss a meeting with coach? When I entered the office and saw the worried faces on the coaches, I began to worry that something was really wrong. Then I was told to go to the locker room and wait for the rest of the team. As my teammates started to arrive, questions from player to player were discussed, does anyone know what's going on? I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that something wasn't right. I stood next to my locker, not speaking or doing anything, just staring into space. Around 12:15, the coaches and the last of my teammates entered the room.
I saw that their faces were covered by their hands and sobs of pain were heard through their sniffles. Then coach told us, Alisa had passed away earlier that morning. Those words rattled me. For a brief second, I stood, saw the reactions of my teammates and stood in disbelief. I thought to myself, did coach just say what I think she said? Then in shock and pain, tears came streaming down my face. Stopping then, starting up again tears and memories of Alisa's presence were flooding my mind. Time went by as more and more people began to arrive. I felt confused, sad, angry and shocked. One minute she was with us as happy as could be, and then the next moment, she wasn't there. My head was hurting, and my eyes were sore and swollen. Hours after receiving the news and taking some antibiotics, we got to go home.
School started that following day. The classes helped ease my mind off the loss of a great friend the day before. Practice that day was not even practice at all. During warm-ups and shooting, the pain of such a loss was still present. I tried to hold back the tears and be strong for the team, but it was too hard. I managed to get through an hour and a half of ball and then a half an hour of weights. Later on that day after a brief counseling session and light snack, the team decided to go ahead and play in Los Angeles. We knew no matter how long or how brief we mourned, we would have to continue to play and that the first returning game back would be the hardest. It was. The Lewis family flew in earlier that morning and met with the team. Practice the next day was intense. Refocusing mentally and physically was straining on my body. After a few days of crying and very little sleep, Wednesday's practice literally knocked me back into shape.
Thursday's practice started early, 6:30 a.m. Practice went by as usual as it could, same shooting drills, etc. We had arranged to meet at 11:30 a.m. to prepare ourselves for the memorial. Alisa's family and friends joined us in the team meeting room where we had a prayer before heading into in the gym. Walking into the gym and seeing so many people, I thought to myself that this was really nice. Throughout the service, great things and memories of Alisa were shared.
We left later that day for LA. Nothing would ever be the same. I remember last year Alisa and I were roommates in LA and played PlayStation 2 and watched DVDs in our free time. When I arrived at the hotel, I was emotionally tired and worn out that right when I got into the room I fell asleep. That night, flashbacks of Alisa kept me up. I never told anyone about this. I couldn't sleep, and time felt like it lasted an eternity. It was game day so I tried to focus on playing my best, but it was difficult.
USC was a hard game to play. Before the game a moment of silence was held, and I lost my game face for a split moment. This game was going to be tight. The next day practice was competitive and intense. We were ready for the game against UCLA, and we were bringing it to them. To relax and enjoy time together as a team, we went to Hollywood for a couple of hours. A couple of my teammates and I took pictures on some of the Hollywood stars. We were entertained by a rapper on the street and moved by the advice he bestowed upon us. The night was young and dinner that night was held at Tasha's grandparent's house. Playing games and talking with family made the time easier for all.
UCLA. Physical. That's one way of describing the game. We played our hearts out but fell short. This past week and a half has been hard both mentally and physically. Alisa I love you and miss you a lot. Take care. Go Bears!