By Meg Cullar, News Editor of the Baylor Line
Photograph by Sarah Borth/Waco Tribune-Herald
March 7 was senior night for the Lady Bears basketball team, and my husband and I were faithfully in our seats in a sold-out Ferrell Center to bid farewell to three terrific athletes who have made Baylor proud for four years.
As each player walked out to say goodbye, and Coach Kim Mulkey greeted them on the court, it reminded me of the long, sad goodbye scene in The Wizard of Oz. I know Coach Mulkey doesn’t look much like Dorothy now, but remember: she has a braided past. And, ignoring the obvious gender issue, the three Lady Bear seniors made me think of the Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow–the truest kind of friends who have made the Ferrell Center seem like a wonderland and who have shown the courage, heart, and brains to deal with the challenges that have come along.
With that flowing mane of hair, who other than Rachel Allison could be the Cowardly Lion? But cowardly–hardly. You have to remember the whole point of The Wizard of Oz. The very thing that every character is seeking is the exact thing that they possess the most of. At one point, the Lion says, “What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? Courage!” Well, who more often goes charging into the mist of a battle for rebounds than Rachel? The Lion would often start running and then take a flying leap off into the woods. Remind you of anyone going for the basket?
Rachel had a rough spot this year, but she charged back with courage, earning a double-double in points and rebounds in a nail-biter victory over A&M on March 7. And if you want to know who she’s afraid of, heed these words of the Lion: “Not nobody! Not no how!”
Sleek and smooth, Jessica Morrow has to be the Tin Man. Every once in a while, Jessica might need a little bit of oil to get going, but not against A&M in her final game at the Ferrell Center. She was all heart every step of the way, sewing up the victory for the Lady Bears by scoring the team’s last twelve points, including two clutch three-pointers and some nerves-of-steel free throws.
Since the team lost Danielle Wilson to an injury during the Texas game February 28, nobody has shown more heart than Jessica, rallying the team in that game and stepping up to seal the victory against A&M. And as she leaves Baylor, it certainly makes us all wish that our hearts were unbreakable.
The most talkative and friendly character in Oz is the Scarecrow, and that has to be Jhasmin Player. The sight of her going down with a knee injury last year is hard to forget–kind of like watching the flying monkeys tear apart the Scarecrow or the wicked witch set fire to him. Thank goodness she was repaired and ready to go for this year.
The Scarecrow is looking for brains, and Jhasmin is definitely the brains of this operation. She’s the CEO, and it’s hard to imagine how we’ll get along without her. Not to worry–as she told the crowd after the game Saturday night, “After I’m gone, Coach Mulkey’s gonna handle everything.”
As Dorothy says her final goodbye to the Scarecrow, she says, “I think I’m going to miss you most of all.” For her positive attitude, her loquacious habits, her humor, her command of the floor, Jhasmin will leave a noticeable vacancy. As the Wizard presents the Scarecrow with proof of a brain, he says, “Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.”
Well, come this May, all three of these impressive athletes will have a Baylor diploma. It’s proof positive that they possess courage, heart, and brains, because it takes all of those and more to be a successful student as well as an athlete.
In her senior-night comments, Jessica said that she will always think of Baylor as family. I think I can speak for the entire Baylor family in saying that we feel the same way about you three. We’ve enjoyed traveling down the yellow brick road with you. Baylor will always be a home for you, so come back and visit. Remember: “There’s no place like home.”