My name is Olivia Ziolkowski, 2022. I am a 6’0 forward/guard from Beckley, WV with a GPA of 4.4. I want to pursue a career in the health sciences; sports medicine or nursing. What sets me apart? Experience. But not in basketball. This season my teammates and I came to the defense of our assistant coach who was unnecessary attacked by a state trooper during a time out against our rival who happens to be coached by the state’s governor. After the game the governor made a public statement to the paper that we were “thugs“ and “you get what we get”. That story went nationwide. The hatred was real from unknown strangers across the country who listened to this man using his platform as governor as a sounding board for his hate driven agenda. For standing up for an injustice to defend our coach we love, myself and 4 of my fellow teammates and starters were suspended for leaving the bench. We remained silent. We knew were were right despite edited cell phone video of a fan that accompanied the news story. A week later the school footage was released and vindicated our team and coaches, but we had already taken our punishment and sat out for 2 of the longest games of the season. But it was not a tragic experience. Along the way I learned about passion, forgiveness, strength of character, and perseverance in adversity. And I learned love exists. The out pouring of love from the community was so great. Every store front and newspaper rallied behind us as we stormed into the state championship final four. We were picked as favorites for the first ever girls championship at my school. But later that next day we learned that same governor cancelled the tournament before his team even played its first game due to the corona virus. Lessons learned: there will always be another challenge and another obstacle. Adapt and overcome. And always remember love.