It was really sad leaving Comcast Center this afternoon, and not only because we'd just witnessed #9 Florida State deliver a beat-down to the Terps, 94-61, in the last game of the regular season. Yes, that was sad . . . but no, what made us really sad is that today was the last home game in the career of Maryland senior Emery Wallace.
Ask any fan who's followed Emery's tenure at Maryland and, we'd bet, they'll tell you that she is one very special young lady. She came to Maryland with the same dreams and expectations of every high school basketball star . . . to have a great career playing in college, and perhaps beyond. But for Emery, those dreams ended far too soon after her arrival in College Park. She'd had knee injuries and surgeries in high school, and another knee injury sidelined her during her freshman year at Maryland. Emery did see limited action during her sophomore year, but unfortunately, her knees then failed her for the final time, and she was no longer able to play the game that she loved.
For many young people, that would have been it. They'd have walked away from basketball, or from their team, or perhaps even from their school. But not Emery.
Being on a D-I college team takes a lot of time, and a lot of commitment, even if you're only sitting on the bench. But that was time that Emery willingly and enthusiastically continued to give to the Maryland team. And so, for the past two years, Emery has remained with the Terps program, even though, for medical reasons, she can no longer play. She's been on the bench for every game, home and away, providing constant encouragement and support to her teammates. She is their biggest cheerleader. When her teammates come off the floor during a time out, Emery is there with words of encouragement or advice. Simply put, Emery has been a student-coach and one-woman booster club for her teammates, year in and year out. Quite remarkable.Patsy and Tom Wallace
And we have a pretty good idea where Emery gets her loyalty and enthusiasm from . . . it's in her genes. As remarkable as Emery's support has been to the team these past few years, her parents' loyalty and support (particularly that of her father, Tom) have, in some respects, been even more remarkable. Although the Wallaces live in distant Roanoke, Virginia (a four-hour drive, each way, from Comcast), Tom has been a fixture at Maryland games -- home and away -- for Emery's entire college career. And that includes the last two seasons when he knew that his daughter would not see a single minute of playing time. You could probably count on one hand the number of games that Tom Wallace has missed each year. Seeing Tom Wallace in the stands, and Emery on the bench, game after game, has been truly inspiring. We will miss them both.
Soon it will be time for Emery (after collecting her diploma) to move on to the next phase of her life. Those of us who've met and talked with her know that Emery is a delightful, articulate young woman who aspires to a career as a sports broadcaster. (We think she'd be great!) It's our sincere hope that this is one dream of Emery's that does indeed come true.
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Next Up for the Terps: the 2010 ACC Tournament, which kicks off this Thursday in Greensboro, NC. As ACC fans know, the top four teams in the 12-school Conference get a bye on Thursday, while the other 8 teams slug it out in four preliminary games. The Thursday winners advance to play in the Quarterfinal round on Friday. It's been five years since the Terps had to play in Greensboro on a Thursday, so this is unfamiliar territory for every player on the Maryland team.
And thanks to some truly bizarre karma, the Terps on Thursday will play another team that hasn't played on Thursday in many years either -- North Carolina! And -- are you ready? -- the winner of the Terps-Tarheels game will face Duke on Friday. Weird, huh? See you in Greensboro!
Photo Credits: DC BasketCases