Smiling From Ear To Ear

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whitholloway.jpg Now that the first semester of my freshman year is officially over, here is a little insight on how it went, both academically and basketball-wise.

First off, I would like to say that Notre Dame is exactly what I expected and more! I couldn't be happier with my choice to attend Notre Dame and I am absolutely loving every moment of it. Of course, times can get rough, like challenging classes and hard practices, but I know it will all pay off in the end.

Coming to Notre Dame, I knew that I would be challenged academically. I remember during summer school at a meeting for all of the freshmen athletes they told us that there would be no shortcuts. They told us that just because we were athletes, there would be no special treatment, no backdoors, no side doors, no entitlements, none of that. We have the same exact expectations as other students. I wasn't expecting any easy ways out, but at the same time, this was a little scary when I thought about the fact that roughly 70 percent of accepted Notre Dame students rank in the top five percent of their high school class and have extremely high ACT and SAT scores. I was hoping my college preparatory high school education would pay off!

I took five classes last semester - statistics, philosophy, common human diseases, social problems and adolescent psychology. Philosophy was definitely my hardest class, but I worked hard in the classroom and finished off the semester with a 3.1 grade-point average.

Now it's time for the exciting part - basketball! When I put on that Notre Dame uniform for the first time for our first game, it felt like the best day of my life. It felt so surreal! Seeing my name and number on a Fighting Irish jersey just made me so happy and excited, and I felt so blessed.

I committed to Notre Dame at the end of my sophomore year in high school, so after waiting nearly two years, taking numerous visits to campus, and watching the team play game after game, the only thing I could say was "finally!"

When I ran out on that court for the first time with "Here Come the Irish" playing and all of our wonderful fans cheering, I knew that college basketball would be the best thing ever. Honestly I don't think I stopped smiling that whole game! I kept looking up in the stands right at my parents with a huge smile on my face. Both my parents and I were extremely excited, and it was even more exciting when I got into the game for the first time.

On a side note, I had to miss the exhibition game because of an ankle sprain I had done in practice just a few days before the game, which was really depressing. But I did lots of treatment with our amazing trainer Anne (Marquez) and I was only out for about a week to 10 days.

When basketball practice first started, I thought it was very challenging, and it still is. Having to guard and be guarded by teammates like Skylar Diggins, Fraderica Miller, Natalie Novosel, Brittany Mallory, Kayla McBride and Kaila Turner isn't an easy job, and neither is competing against all of my other amazing and talented teammates. But I love it because each and every day at practice, they make me better by challenging me and never going easy on me just because I'm a freshman or just because I'm small. I know for a fact that this type of challenge will pay off in the long run. In fact it already does in the sense that the games are easier than practice.

I love my teammates and coaches more than anything! My teammates are all like the big sisters I never had. We have so much fun together and most of them love picking on me (jokingly, of course!) because I'm small and a freshman but I love it and wouldn't want it any other way :)

As for my coaches, having a Hall of Fame coach is amazing. It attests to how great of a coach Coach McGraw has been and still is today. But even more than that, Coach McGraw is an amazing woman. She cares about more than just basketball. She genuinely cares about her players and staff and it is easily shown. Coach Ivey, Coach Owens, and Coach Tsipis are the same way. They are all amazing coaches and people. They are the same people now as when I first met them as a freshman in high school. I have a particularly special relationship with Coach Ivey. She is my position coach and helps me out more than she probably even realizes. I really admire her.

Not having to do with academics or basketball, I have to give a shout out to my dorm, Pangborn Hall! I live in Pangborn and Pangborn is also the former home of Natalie Novosel when she lived on campus. It may not be the nicest-looking dorm on campus, but it has great people in it and it is near South Dining Hall!

Go Irish!

- Whitney Holloway ('15)

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