By Emily Ellis
The entire Bentley community was invited to the Green Space this past Saturday with the promise of an ice cream truck, free food and a T-shirt to all in attendance. However, though we Bentley students love our pulled pork and T-shirt giveaways, we needed no such incentive to gather in the amazing weather for the celebration of our very own National Champions, the women’s basketball team. This was a very worthy cause for celebration and I’m very proud to say that Bentley did it right.
Senior captain, Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for Division II and NCAA Division II Player of the Year, Lauren Battista, commented on the turnout for the celebration. “We were so grateful for all the people who came out to support us. There were so many members of the Bentley and Waltham community that it was hard to mention everyone in our speeches, but every person that was there deserved a shout out because they were all so meaningful to our championship run. It was awesome to get to celebrate our championship with everyone who was a part of it.”
The championship team showed up in style via duck boats. After a couple of celebratory laps around campus, the two duck boats pulled up in front of the Green Space and were greeted by hundreds of current and prospective students, alumni, friends and family. I think we can all agree that the Green Space has never seen such organized excitement before; we stood proud and united. Pompoms were waving, the tourist’s favorite duck beak necklaces were quacking and the crowd was chanting: “Barbara, Barbara, Barbara” in extreme unison. We were so proud of our team and glad for the opportunity to shower them with praise after winning such an honor for our school.
The team managers, athletic trainer, players and coaching staff were all announced one-by-one off the duck boat and led to the stage set up on the lawn. Then, the championship team’s number one fan, our eager president Gloria Larson, took to the podium. Freshman superfan, Alexis Baker, said Gloria was an “incredibly motivational speaker…everyone was really excited by her speech.”
President Larson included some very impressive facts about our national championship team before turning the microphone over to the mayor of Waltham. One of her facts included the impressive feat of having both the Coach of the Year in Coach Stevens and the Player of the Year in Battista on the national championship team. Because of this, she referred to this team as “the Ultimate Dream Team.”
Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy then offered her congratulations on behalf of Waltham. She proudly announced that April 12, 2014 was officially “Bentley Women’s Basketball Team Day” in Waltham, MA. “Everyone was cheering so loudly when the mayor announced that she dedicated the entire day to the team. They definitely deserved that recognition because they brought so much pride to our entire community…even outside of our campus,” said junior superfan Christiana Hynds.
Senior captains, Christiana Bakolas and Battista, shared the podium to offer their many thanks to all of the support their team has received throughout the entire season. Bakolas started by thanking her family, who she joked made up a good portion of the crowd today because there were so many of them present and thanked some of the less recognized fans at Bentley. Bakolas gave a special shout out to Bentley’s Facilities Management team, the Bentley Police and all of the employees of Sodexo.
Battista elaborated on her speech after the ceremony concluded saying, “The purpose of my individual speech was to thank all of the Bentley students who have supported us all season, but especially in the playoffs. When we were in Erie, PA we could feel the love from the student body when we were sent videos from the viewing parties in the Dana Center and so many pictures and messages from students wishing us good luck. The students who made the trip out to Erie for the championship were so important to us because it helped make the arena we were playing in feel like the Dana Center. Since our return, so many students have reached out to us to congratulate us on our championship and have ignited Bentley spirit, taking it to a whole new level.”
The crowd continued to chant, “Barb, Barb, Barb” as our head coach, the WEBCA Division II National Coach of the Year, took to center stage. Proving just how much respect the legendary coach has earned from the Bentley community, the large and rambunctious masses of Bentley students were fell completely silent to hear what she had to say. When she wrapped up her speech, Stevens led a chant “We are: Bentley. We are: Bentley. And we are: National Champions.”
The hoopla continued for a while, eager fans got to offer personal congratulations to the team after the more formal celebration. Battista commented on some of her favorite parts from the “Rolling Rally.”
“The part of the rally I enjoyed the most was getting to interact with all of the people after the speeches were over. Being able to talk to students, alumni, fans and little kids who look up to us is so rewarding and makes us realize how many people we have been able to inspire through our success. Also getting a day named after our team by the city of Waltham was very cool!”
Before concluding the ceremony, one of the last things Coach Stevens assured the Bentley community, was that the underclassman on this all-star team are more than prepared to defend our national title. Even though we may have #FinishedBusiness with the Ultimate Dream Team, Stevens knows the potential of the program going forward and is setting her sights on back-to-back championships.