In my life, I am always the most motivated when I have something to look forward to. My energy just feeds off the excitement of whatever notable upcoming date. During the last week of school, before winter break, I always get the best test grades and feel the most focused. Sometimes I look forward to something as simple as the weekend, a Friday night football game, an LSU game, or a basketball clinic. But that isn’t this week. This week I can feel the excitement buzz through my body and I feel like I’m working faster than ever in preparation for a lifetime experience on Friday night. LSU is coming to Washington DC! And we have tickets to the game!

LSU has always been a top dog football program and a winning baseball program with a half-decent basketball team. Remember, I was born many years after the Shaquille O’Neal era. Until this year, I really didn’t pay too much attention to LSU basketball. On my favorite LSU news websites, I usually graze through the articles looking for football news. I love LSU football and I have always enjoyed watching basketball. But frankly, LSU never gave me too much to cheer about on the basketball court. This year LSU basketball completely changed and it took me (and most everyone) by surprise.

It was March 20th, 2017 and LSU had ended its season with a fifteen game losing streak and a second straight year of exclusion from March Madness. That was the day LSU hired their 22nd basketball coach Will Wade. In just a year he turned the program around and got us into the round of 32 before we were sent home after getting totally dominated by Utah State. This year things were different. We started winning games and I started to pay attention to LSU basketball. Then we started winning real games and I started to really get invested. Then we started to beat the best SEC teams; we had become the top basketball team in the SEC in just a week, beating Tennessee and Kentucky and finally, for the first time ever, I started watching and reading all the basketball articles.

Now, we are in the Sweet Sixteen and have outperformed our every expectation. We are playing with a chip on our shoulder with the shooting of teammate Wade Sims and the suspension of coach Will Wade. That’s why despite the strength and effort our team put in through the regular season, earning our first SEC championship in a decade, we are still playing with the odds against us. They think that we’re a “team in turmoil,” but these challenges only bring out deeper strength.

On Friday night, in the Capital One Area only half an hour from my driveway, I am going to see LSU compete on the highest level they have in years. Basketball is a sport that as exciting as it can be on TV, it is electrifying to see in real time, in real life, and with thousands of passionate fans filling the stadium. Seeing the athletes in person that are competing in the eight games that hold the best teams in college basketball will be astounding. These are some of the tallest, most explosive athletes in the country. Athletes like Naz Reid, the biggest big man in the SEC, Marlon Taylor, the man who can jump out of the gym, and Tremont Waters, the most controlled ball handler, shooter, and defender. I love seeing these guys on ESPN, but I can’t wait to see how high, how big, how fast, and how skilled they really are in person. That’s why I am an unstoppable machine at school and practice. I have more motivation knowing that this Friday I get to witness, in the Capital One Arena at 7:09, LSU basketball.