Editor’s note: Yale junior guard Gabby Nelson is a from Hurst, Tex. Nelson played in a homecoming game for her as the Elis upset TCU on the road 82-72 last Monday, starting her first game ever for the Elis and posting a career scoring high with six points. (Yale is off to a 3-1 start this season.) Nelson agreed to reflect on the trip out west this past week for Ivy Hoops Online’s Richard Kent.
This past week, Yale Women’s Basketball traveled to play two fierce Big 12 opponents: Kansas and TCU. This trip served as an opportunity to bring three players back home and to play very high-level basketball.
We started off the six-day trip flying into Kansas City and going directly to the men’s game against South Dakota State. The atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse was something I have never experienced firsthand. Even though the women’s game did not receive as much attention, it was still a once in a lifetime experience to play on such an iconic court. As for the game against Kansas, we wish we had another shot at them. We were the better team, but small mistakes and mental errors down the stretch were our undoing. Kansas did not beat us; we beat ourselves. Despite the disappointing loss, I think it was a learning experience that will help us throughout the season.
The Kansas trip was also special because it gave us the opportunity to bring home the one and only Jessica Steffen. We had the opportunity to hang out with her wonderful friends and family. The love and pride everyone had for Jessica and her accomplishments speaks volumes about her character and dedication that she brings every day.
Following Kansas, we flew down to the great state of Texas to take on TCU. This part of the trip was especially important to me because TCU was my introduction to college basketball. Growing up I went to countless games, camps, and tours of the TCU campus, so to have the opportunity to play an actual game on their home court was something out of a dream.
TCU is a much better team than Kansas, so one would expect there to be some doubt creeping into our minds before the game, but we came out, played our style of basketball, and beat TCU!
The fire and energy we had during the game began during our pregame talk when one of the most iconic YWBB alumni, Lena Munzer, surprised our team before the game. How excited and fired up the team got from seeing Lena reminded me that this game is so special not because of the wins or loses, but because of the people we get to build relationships with. People like Lena Munzer fly all the way from Chicago for one game, over 100 people that are friends with the two local Texas girls come out to support Yale on a Tuesday night. The sentimental moments from this trip to Texas stemmed from the phenomenal people I got to spend my time with on and off the court. This trip reminded me that I play this game because I love basketball, but it’s the people within the sport that makes it that much sweeter.
There is no way to really summarize this trip to Kansas and Texas. I may be biased since I am a Texas native, but it felt like a “you had to be there” type of thing. Even though the trip was full of sentimental moments, the victory over TCU, and near win against Kansas are important for our basketball team moving forward. The Ivy League is often overlooked and disrespected. My teammates push themselves at one of the most elite academic institutions in the country, but they are still as good, or better, than other Division I players. This trip sent a notice to others in our league, as well as the country, that we are the real deal. Watch out for Yale Women’s Basketball.