Parade Notes and Reflections from the Championship Bus
"I Love a Parade" – especially one that salutes the UConn Women’s Basketball team. Talk about what’s become known as an annual rite of spring! For 11 seasons, the UConn Huskies have been crowned Queen of the Court; Storrs has been named the Women’s College Basketball Capital of the World; and the blue and white confetti has flown in Downtown Hartford.
Diehard fans have celebrated with all of these championship teams, with the 2016 parade count being 20,000 of the faithful lining the streets of Connecticut’s Capital City. To some people, the weather was a little brisk. For me, the Webster blue sky meant perfect weather.
Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to take part in 10 of these victory laps…first covering them as a reporter; then planning them with the City of Hartford; and now sponsoring them with Webster, the Official Bank of UConn Athletics and UConn Alumni.
Each opportunity has been different and all have been fun. What was special this time around is that I had the opportunity to do more than march in the parade and take photos. This time I had the chance to ride with the team bus – a double decker delight - sponsored by Webster.
Watching these talented young women enjoy the moment was a thrill. They were literally basking in the sun as well as the glow of victory. As they rode that bus from the Capitol Building with the glimmering gold dome to the XL Center – one of their home away from home courts – they hoisted their fourth consecutive championship trophy, cementing their place in history.
What we don’t always get to see is their pure joy of life - beyond the love of the game. You know, girls just wanting to have fun.
Fans always see their determined faces; their athletic moves; and their poised interviews. We see them high-fiving on the side lines and make the clutch shots at the free throw line.
How they giggled when they pet Jonathan the Husky; how they danced to the beat of the drums of Waterbury Career Academy; how they had riff-offs of their favorite songs; and how they took selfie after selfie to capture the moment.
Ah, "the moment." I think it meant different things to different players. For some of the returning players, it was soak up the sun and soak up the fun.
For the "big three" of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck, there seemed to be some quiet moments of reflection in between all the excitement.
And perhaps, there’s a little reflection on the fans’ part too. For decades, we have watched these girls transform into women – succeeding at all levels in life – and we are as proud of them as if they were our own daughters.
Now, this next group of champions is moving on. From here on in, their uniforms will be different. As "Stewie" said, "Once a husky, always a husky."
As we fans say, "You’ll always be part of our family."