Intersections: Excellence

February 17, 2017 by Bill Ivey

Here is a comprehensive list of all the NCAA basketball programs besides the UConn women’s side that have ever won 100 straight games:

1.

Not only is the feat unprecedented, but also they have kept it going in a year where few people if any predicted they would maintain this level of dominance. Their top three players - who just happened to also be the first three players taken in the WNBA draft, a feat that is also unprecedented - had graduated, and while this year’s group certainly had talent, they were seen as a young team due for what passes as a rebuilding year at UConn.

And yet, they just keep winning.

Coach Geno Auriemma put it this way, “For this team to do it, given where we started and where people projected us to be, given who we had coming back and what everybody else had coming back? This is very appropriate.” (quoted in Jacobs)

How does a thing like this happen?

"We just know when we recruit them it's going to happen. We trust them. And then you leave it, because it's expected. We don't know when it's going to happen but it has a tendency to happen in the biggest moments. I can't explain why. It just is." (Auriemma, quoted in Jacobs)

Those words are so simple, and yet so powerful. If you watch him in the post-game interview, there’s no question how deeply he feels it. It’s clear his players mean the world to him.

I think most if not all great teachers know this truth. I think back to when Apple (Gifford, our Director of Academic Services) and I were talking Saturday night while chaperoning a dance, and she said, “When you have the courage to stand back and let the students handle it, they always come through.” She was describing a moment in class when the students were facilitating a discussion of important factors in the fall of Rome. Although several of the more vocal students kept asking quieter kids, “Do you want to say something?, that wasn’t really working. At one point, a silence began to build. Apple thought about intervening, but decided to wait and see. In her words, “Eventually, Tiaa asked, ‘Shelyn, what do you think was the most important factor?’ And that's what opened them up.”

I was in the house for UConn’s 100th victory, and my colleague Charlotte Hogan was in Apple’s class when the moment with Tiaa and Shelyn took place. We both become animated when talking about our experiences. And, of course! There’s an incredible, infectious sense of positive energy in a team or a classroom that, in focusing on and trusting in students, brings out the best in them and helps them find their way to excellence.

Written by Bill Ivey

A dedicated member of the faculty, Bill Ivey is the Middle School Dean at Stoneleigh-Burnham School. He teaches Humanities 7 and the Middle and Upper School Rock Bands. Bill is the advisor for MOCA, the middle school student government, and he coordinates and participates in the middle school service program. Among his many hats, Bill also coordinates social media for Stoneleigh-Burnham School.

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Filed Under: Intersections, athletics, Excellence, Education, Teaching, student voice, Student support