A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a University of Maryland basketball game. They played at the Xfinity Center in College Park against Wisconsin. My husband and I are avid college basketball fans. He went to Maryland, and I went to Michigan State. We can all agree it is much more fun to be a Spartan than a Terp, but we will put that aside for now. Because of him, and Maryland having joined the Big Ten Conference, I accompany him in watching the games. Though I may not be a true Marylander or Terrapin, I can appreciate each player’s story and journey, and can say I have really enjoyed watching this team over time.
One, in particular, has been my most favorite player. He was not nationally recognized last year, but I admired his consistency, talent, and attitude. He quickly emerged into one of the best point guards in the country. In their most challenging times last year, he always seemed to lift the Terps up, by providing, what appeared to be, a confident, more understating personality on the court. To me, it was no-brainer when he was selected to Sports Illustrated’s preseason All-American team, and named the Big Ten’s Preseason Player of the Year. I was so proud, without even knowing him, that through his work, dedication, and skill, he has been identified as an one of the elite players in college basketball — as just a sophomore.
There was no question that Maryland fans were anticipating and expecting a record breaking season from Melo Trimble. Not only because of his preseason accolades and recognition, but because he has been labeled as a player who should significantly contribute to and lead this team to a final four; and these fans feel due and entitled.
Trimble has had an incredible couple of years with the Maryland Terrapins. He has proved to be one of the best players in the country. Right now, Maryland is 23-6, with Trimble averaging 14 points per game. Without getting into the details of his statistics, let’s just put it this way: before today’s loss at Purdue, Maryland ranked 2nd in the Big Ten. That’s a feat, in itself, given the remarkable talent among the other conference programs.
My heart goes out to Melo Trimble.
College sports are challenging; and when the spotlight is on an individual player, it is even more difficult. Last week, when we were sitting in the stands enjoying the gritty, hard fought college basketball game, I heard some of the most awful, horrific, and repulsive cries from the fans….directed straight at Trimble.
“What the hell is Trimble doing out there? He sucks.”
“Why didn’t Trimble drive to the hoop? He is %#^%ing horrible. Get him out of the game.”
“What’s the matter with Trimble? Doesn’t he give it shit? When he is going to care?”
These were just a few of the many bigoted comments screamed from the upper deck down to the court.
Trimble cares. I guarantee it. And, more than anyone can ever imagine. Some may say he is in a slump, some may say he was overrated, and some may say he is just isn’t good. Melo Trimble is an elite athlete, who has put the Maryland basketball team on his shoulders a countless number of times within the last two seasons. The reason he has been recognized is because of the individual success he has displayed day in and day out.
To perform at the level in which he has, takes a special competitor. In college sports, athletes have endless responsibilities outside of their game, which often go unrecognized. They are expected to block out external situations, issues, and stressors, and step on the court to perform to the best of their ability. An elite athlete finds a way to focus. But, an athlete who is in the limelight, with maximal expectations, the pressures can sometimes be prohibitive. I am not saying that Melo Trimble hasn’t fulfilled his promises. I am saying that until you are in his shoes, in an sold out arena of 18,000 people, at the free throw line with the game in your hands, you have no right to scrutinize him.
I get it. I was once there. Not in an arena with a crowd of 18,000 on national television, but with undeniable expectations in a women’s college soccer program. And, I failed several times. I let down my coaches, teammates, family, and fans. In fact, I still have nightmares about the time we played University of Michigan, and with minutes ticking down on the clock, I had a wide open opportunity – just the goalkeeper and I. And, I missed it. All I heard from the stands was, “How in the hell did she miss that?” Well, I don’t know how, but I did. And, I can assure you of one thing: As a spectator, it will always look a hell of a lot easier from the sidelines.
And, I can also assure you of this: when Melo Trimble comes up huge to lead the Terrapins to the elite eight next month, all those people who expressed negative comments on television, social media, and from the stands will claim to be his biggest fans – who knew and believed he had it in him the whole time… Just like mine did when we advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
A true fan supports you through it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even though you are not a Spartan, I am, and will continue to be, a huge fan of yours, Melo. Keep it up.