The Life of a Tiger

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cameron McCullough, entering his final season as a member of the Marshall County Tiger basketball has graciously volunteered to share his experiences with the readers of the Tribune in a weekly column. This is the first of the series, penned by the senior.

Nine months ago my final season as a Marshall County Tiger basketball player began when we lost at David Lipscomb in the region tournament. I saw the faces of my teammates as we sat in silence in the foreign locker room. For most of the team it was the beginning of a strenuous off-season; however, for our two beloved seniors (Ryan Nicholson and DeShaun Greer), it was the end of the road as MCHS basketball players. Knowing I would be in that same situation a year later sent chills down my spine and butterflies to my stomach.

In March we began going back to work. We prepared physically by lifting weights and honing our individual basketball skills from one thirty to three o'clock. There was no delay to get back into another season as we hit the ground running.

As a team and as individuals, we improved our game significantly in hopes of another great season. For most students, the end of May meant summer and lethargic days followed by late, sleepless nights. For us, however, it meant the beginning of camps and preparing to take on the season with strong momentum. We traveled to Culleoka, Columbia, Belmont, and the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Many things characterized our days at camps. For me, it was eating bologna sandwiches and potato chips for breakfast, lunch, and occasionally dinner. Waking up just as the night ended with the sun's convenient arrival and traveling on the bus with our inner-county rivals, Cornersville was great. We got to know them as individuals and at moments, it felt as if we were one big team.

We won ninety percent of our games and we progressed even more as summer ended, and then school began, ending a memorable summer of fun on and off the basketball court.

We survived through October. As one who has to go through the brutal experience, I can inform you that Coach Tigert's conditioning schedule is superior to that of any other coach in Tennessee. Miles after miles of running, hours after hours of drills, and thousands of shots, prepared us for the start of the upcoming season. We had our game plan set, and now it was time to put it to the test.

On opening night, we stood in Brentwood's locker room awaiting the release of all of our energy that we had been storing for nine months.

About two hours later, we were jumping and yelling as we celebrated a huge first victory. Our senior season was officially underway for four of us as our last first game came to an end. As a team, we celebrated more than just a win; we celebrated the reward that was given to us for working so hard during the off-season, putting all those extra hours in the gym, and spending summer time at camps. The feeling of victory poured upon our hearts, reimbursing us for our strenuous, hard work.

For our first home game, we were matched with a talented Lebanon team. We were excited and prepared to reveal our team to the home crowd. All night, we battled and played hard; however, that night they were the better team. Just as we celebrated the victory together, we sat in the locker room and shared the bitter feeling of loss together. Basketball is a game of ups and downs, and as a team, it is up to us to go through both together and continue to do all we can as basketball player. Hopefully in the end, we will come out on top.