Muscle Milk Rotator Sponsor
Karissa Hampton From San Jose
By: UCLA Athletics

Nov. 30, 2000

Hello everyone. Yes, yes, we found our way to San Jose. We left today and began our trip to the supposed "unknown". We met around 1:30 to get our uniforms and the new gear - you know all the perks that come along with going to the Final Four. We received a new fleece, a t-shirt, and a little backpack/sack. Everyone is thrilled. As we were getting ready to depart for the airport, I got on the bus and yelled, "Are you guys ready???!!" Everyone just kind of turned to me and smiled. But it was the kind of smile that said, you better believe it!

While walking through the airport, people were stopping me and asking, What sport do you play? Who are you going to play? Where are you going?? As the words Final Four rolled off my tongue, I realized that I am heading to a tournament that I always wanted to be a part of.

Once we got off the plane in San Jose, our host family was there to greet us. They are so nice! Can you believe they actually took the time to look each of us up on the web before we arrived? They were excited to meet us, and I loved it. I think we all loved it. After that, we collected our bags and got on the bus to travel to our hotel. As we were nearing the hotel people began to notice the banners hanging from the street poles that read, "Women's NCAA College Cup". Everyone was amazed and looking at all the different signs. Immediately, it brought me back to a speech UCLA softball coach Sue Enquist gave us the night before. She talked about not getting too carried away with all the "riff-raff" that comes with being in the NCAAs. As soon as I was getting ready to say to the girls, "Hey, get back on track," someone else blurts out, "Ignore the riff-raff!" People started to laugh.

When I think about it, Sue's talk was amazing. It was one of the best talks I think I've had in a while. She was so real about everything. I thought to myself, I have to stay on track and stay focused, and I need to take it upon myself that the rest of the team does the same. I mean, it is obvious that being in the Final Four can be an overwhelming experience. The way in which you deal with it will pretty much determine your success. Sue said something that most people probably don't think about. She said, "You cannot expect to be able to turn it on as soon as you walk on the field if you have not prepared during the week." If anything sticks with me it will be that because preparation has everything to do with performance. I know my team has the talent and the ability to take this tournament and go all the way, but what can break us, along with any other team, is lack of preparation. But I know us, and I believe in us, and we will be ready. I saw it in their eyes on the way to the airport. I saw it in their eyes on the plane. I feel what they are feeling, which is the hunger and confidence that every individual will do their part no matter what.

As the night began to wind down, we walked a few blocks to dinner at this place called Original Joe's. It had a pretty lively atmosphere. We ate and laughed together. Basically we were the same crazy bunch we've always been. We took pictures with the waiter, who just happened to love UCLA.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel to wind down. Everyone settled into their rooms. Some did homework, some watched their weekly shows (like myself), and those that are from San Jose met with friends and caught up on old times. I spent most of the night with my roommate, Staci Duncan. But then again, Katie Greenwood has been in my room the whole time, so it gets kind of confusing. Is Staci my roommate or is Katie? Maybe it's both, who knows?

I cannot wait for tomorrow to come and go so that game day will be here. I think tomorrow will be a fun-filled day, but it will not be game day, and that is why we are here. Staci was saying to me that she wishes today were Thursday so that tomorrow we would be playing. I hate the waiting, but I guess I should be patient. After all, this is the last 180 minutes of my collegiate career - why am I trying to rush it? I guess it's just the hunger to accomplish something great because we have worked so hard this year.

One final thing I wanted to add before I go to bed. Yesterday on my way to weights, Bethany Bogart said to me, "Do you know that 99% of the time people end their soccer careers with a loss??" I was like, why would you say that? She explained to me that I have the opportunity to not be a part of that statistic. She was like, "You can be one of those people who finishes their career with a win." That really hit me. I thought to myself, I am not going to be a part of that 99%. Things are going to end a little different for me.

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