SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — From confetti falling to hearts dropping, last week for the Missouri State Lady Bears has been a testament to the ups and downs of life.
“It was devastating,” Missouri State Lady Bears Head Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said. “Obviously heartbreaking. I just wanted to make sure my team was okay. Honestly, I guess I was in shock myself for a bit. But I just went to the back of the bus. There was a lot of tears, obviously. It popped up on everybody’s phone.”
The decision to end March Madness hit the team hard, but no one more than the two seniors.
Alexa Willard and Shameka Ealy had to process not just the end of tournament action, but their careers as well.
“It was really heartbreaking,” Coach Mox said. “Shameka kind of holds her emotions in a little bit. She kind of processes things a little bit differently than Willy. But Willy was tears and just broken. When you look at her, you just saw that her heart was just shattered. There’s nothing you can say as a coach except you love them and you’re proud of them. We did some great things this year. Just console them while they really mourn the loss of their season.”
Even with the heartbreak, however, Coach Mox says she supports the NCAA’s decision.
“It’s a time where we have to take precautions,” Mox said. “The NCAA really didn’t have any choice but to do that.”
While Coach Mox would love to start looking ahead to year number two, that comes with complications as well.
“It’s been different,” Mox said about the recruiting process. “First of all, the offseason came quicker than it’s ever had. In March, usually, we do home visits.Then obviously you have April and spring evaluations. Then you have official visits that start after the final four. For all of that to be put on hold is definitely different for college coaches. You’re trying to get your bearings and just find your new normal. The one thing you can do is facetime and keep contact with your recruits. That’s most important so that they know that you’re still connected even though we can’t come see you or you can’t come see us. You just have to find your new normal, but it has been very awkward. It’s a different offseason for sure.”
A different offseason and an uncertain future for Missouri State.
But you can be sure of one thing: Mox and the Lady Bears are already aiming to be back in the tournament this time next year.