A STUDENT-ATHLETE'S PERSPECTIVE ON THE THIRD-ANNUAL BLACK AND GOLD AWARDS

April 20, 2017
By Melissa Deatsch
Senior Volleyball Player

On April 18, the student-athletes of Oakland University dressed in their best and headed to the Fox Theatre in Detroit to celebrate the year’s accomplishments at the third-annual Black and Gold Awards.

For some, it was their first time experiencing this first-class event. Their first time walking the red carpet. Their first time hearing from the prominent list of presenters. Their first time laughing at the ‘This is Oakland’ videos scattered throughout the event.

But for others, including myself, it was the last. For the seniors whose seasons have already concluded, it was their final farewell to Oakland University Athletics.

From so many that have come before me, I’ve heard the same thing when asked about the conclusion of their career. “It hasn’t hit me yet!’ people often say. Well, I can’t relate. It hit me like a pile of bricks. When my final match concluded and I walked off the court for the last time, I was practically being held up by my best friend while I transformed into a puddle of tears.

I’ve loved my four years here and closing this chapter is certainly hard. But though the pain of Tuesday’s goodbye was certainly prominent, I found myself much more overcome with a feeling of pride. I am proud of my team and the teammates that were nominated for various awards. We we’re represented in some of the evening’s most prestigious categories such as the Holly L. Lepley and Athlete of the Year awards. But I was also proud to celebrate my fellow student-athletes.

We listened to Erin Kownacki’s incredible comeback story for the Inspirational Award, and heard about Courage Award recipient Isaiah Brock’s unconventional path that led him here. We also celebrated the impressive academic achievements of scholars such as Jacob Johnson and Devin Tomlinson as well as the standout leadership qualities of student-athletes such as Takara Martin and Sherron Dorsey-Walker.

We reminisced over Sha’Keya Graves’ stolen inbounds pass and layup that lifted the Women’s basketball team over Green Bay, and looked back on Men’s basketball’s 20-point comeback to earn their first-ever NIT win over Clemson.

As I sat in the audience, surrounded my accomplished fellow student-athletes one last time, I reflected on some of the highlights of my career here.

I was a part of the volleyball program first-ever conference championship. That was, of course, unforgettable. But I’ve also cheered on the men’s soccer team through back-to-back championships, stormed the court after Men’s basketball’s buzzer-beating 2014 homecoming win over UIC, and celebrated the women’s soccer team’s Horizon League Tournament championship while watching with my teammates on a bus back from our own game. Those memories, along with countless more, are unforgettable to me as well.

I can hardly fathom the amount of success Oakland University Athletics has seen during my time here. The undeniable success was displayed at this year’s BGA’s in a comical ‘This is Oakland’ video where student-athletes stood in line outside Grizz’s office waiting to deliver their team’s newest trophy. Equally as impressive is the athletics department’s growth.

When I arrived at Oakland, the O’rena had an ordinary hardwood floor, Track and Field had nowhere to host a home meet, and our end-of-the-year awards were in our arena. Now, we have a blacktop O’rena floor that has garnered national media attention. Track and Field is competing in their third season in their top-notch facility. And each year we travel to the iconic Fox Theatre to celebrate the Black and Gold Awards.

Those are just a few of the many transformations I’ve seen and I look forward what the future holds for this illustrious University.

Oakland University athletes deserve the best, and at the BGA’s that’s what we get. I’m grateful that my bittersweet goodbye was at an award show with such transcendence. As I look to my future only one thing is certain; I will forever be a proud Golden Grizzly.

For the first time, the Black and Gold Awards will be televised on TV20 and air on Monday, April 24, at 8 p.m.

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