espnW: Jadda Buckley

A lot of good came out of season

April, 1, 2014
Iowa State women's basketballAP Photo/Nati HarnikIowa State fell to Florida State 55-44 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

It is understood that at the end of the basketball season there will only be one team standing. Being on the other end of the stick is something that is really hard to swallow.

Being a freshman, I wasn’t sure what to expect when the season came to an unwanted end. You take moments to reflect, but at the same time it’s right back on the grind getting ready to roll for the upcoming year. Things automatically change, you are now older, seniors leave, new freshmen come in and new goals are put into place.

It’s upsetting losing, but one feeling I wasn’t able to shake quickly was one revolving around what coach Bill Fennelly has been stressing all year. Every day, every game, every practice he preached about embracing the process with no excuses and no regrets.

The “process,” aka our season, absolutely flew by. We had our highs and lows, grew close and shared moments we won’t ever forget. It was the last part, “no regrets,” that struck me hard. With three great seniors leaving -- Hallie Christofferson, Ashley Hagedorn and Elly Arganbright -- you think of everything you needed to do better to keep their season going as long as possible.

With only three years left to play in an Iowa State jersey, it all struck me in such a weird way. I thought non-stop about games – the what ifs, should ofs, could ofs -- and nothing changes the outcome. I realized that all that needs to change is the mindset going into next year. And now when coach gives his speech again, I will have a completely different perspective on embracing the process with no regrets.

This was such an amazing year at Iowa State. The relationships we all built throughout the season are something special. The moments on planes, hotels or just sitting around with one another are ones we will always cherish. There was a lot of good that came out of this season, and a lot learned. It makes me that much more excited to see what the upcoming seasons have in store for our Iowa State team!

Last, but certainly not least, I really have to thank the incredible fan base at Iowa State for their amazing support. It is truly special to be able to play in front of you in Hilton Coliseum.

Excited to be playing at home

March, 18, 2014
 Iowa State selection showIowa State AthleticsIowa State will be making its eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance, this time as a No. 7 seed.

We are dancing! With Selection Monday finished up, our team has a solid No. 7 seed, and we could not be more excited and ready to roll into the NCAA tournament. To top it off, we play our first round in Hilton Coliseum. There’s no better place to play our first-round tournament game then on our home court in front of our amazing hometown crowd.

With this being Iowa State’s eighth year in a row appearing in the tournament, I’m beyond excited to have the opportunity to be part of something as special as this is. However, as our coach, Bill Fennelly, said, “There’s a difference between being selected for the NCAA tournament and playing in the NCAA tournament.” We all want to be playing, so the grind of this upcoming week before Saturday’s first-round game against FSU begins.

As a freshman it’s a nerve-racking experience knowing how big of a stage the NCAA tournament is, but, thankfully, being surrounded by some great teammates and coaches who have been through this helps ease the anticipation of the unknown. While we sat around waiting on Monday, the upperclassmen were talking about all the excitement and fun that goes into it, making me even more excited.

Also, with the Big 12 tournament behind us, we’ve had a taste of playing in these big tournaments. However, a reporter asked me today about the nerves of “big-stage tournaments,” and there’s no lying there’s always nerves when it comes to playing any game, whether it’s at the beginning of the season or the tournament games. When it comes down to it, we just have to play basketball the way we know we can, the Iowa State way.

Coming off our one-and-done loss down in Oklahoma City was tough. That was not how we wanted to leave the Big 12 tournament, but there was a lot to learn from it. It’s a tough league, one where you can’t take any possessions off, as our coach always preaches to us. Although it wasn’t how we expected the Big 12 tournament to go, we now have the NCAA tournament to look forward to and focus on. Let’s dance, Cyclone Nation!

It's unreal how season flies by

March, 3, 2014
Jadda Buckley Iowa State AthleticsAfter three straight wins, Iowa State ends its regular season Tuesday night at home against Baylor.

Coming off three straight wins, two of which were on the road, has been absolutely huge for our team as we finish up the regular season with Baylor on Tuesday night. Starting from our game against Texas, to an amazing win at No. 15 OSU, to a quality victory over KU, our team has been battling and sticking together in such an awesome way. March is an important part of our journey, and now with one more home game and then into the Big 12 tournament, we know we have to finish strong and keep fighting.

Once conference play started, it has been a nonstop journey. With back-to-back games lately I came to realize the big difference in scheduling in college compared with high school. Thank goodness for the upperclassmen helping to prepare us for it. They warned us ahead of time how fast it goes and how busy you get once you get into the meaty part of the season. Staying on top of schoolwork and sleep were major keys in helping ease the chaos.

During high school, I was used to one game every Friday and maybe a couple of weeks with two, and the traveling was only an hour bus ride at most. The college schedule -- two days of practice and then flying out that night for a Wednesday game and repeating it with a game on Saturday or Sunday -- was an adjustment for me. Even though the upperclassmen and coaches kept reminders of staying on top of school work and staying healthy, once you actually experience the late nights of traveling back and missing class you get a new perspective.

With tutors, study tables and the support of teammates and coaches, you easily get it worked out. I quickly learned communication with professors, whether it was on what I would be missing for class or making arrangements for exams/homework, was helpful in making sure everything worked out smoothly. Even though it was a bit much at first, once you get the hang of juggling everything, then the trips, games, memories you make all fall into perfect place.

It’s unreal how quickly the basketball season goes in college. Tuesday night against Baylor, which is Senior Night, is our last conference game before the Big 12 tournament. The schedule has flown by, but we still have to continue to battle, and there’s not a better way to finish the regular season than in front of the best fans in Hilton Coliseum!

Play 4Kay game inspirational

February, 18, 2014
Jadda BuckleyIowa State AthleticsOn a night that was special to many, Jadda Buckley and her Iowa State teammates walked away with a big win.

Our coach, Bill Fennelly, told us to fight from the start until the end. And that’s exactly what our team did: We fought Saturday night.

Our Play 4Kay game against Kansas in front of, yet again, another amazing home crowd (a season-high 11,988) was a much-needed victory for our team. With conference play nearing the end, we knew what needed to be executed that night in order for us to walk off the court with a win.

It was a tight game from the tip to the last sounding buzzer. From knocking down 3’s, to hitting jumpers, to getting huge stops on the defensive end, we stuck together for 40 minutes and played hard. Coming off a tough loss against Texas, this win was a big one on such a special night.

Saturday’s Play 4Kay game really made me stop and think about the millions who battle cancer daily, whether it’s them fighting it personally, or maybe a family member, friend, co-worker, coach, teacher, etc. I took a step back, especially when Coach told us to fight out on the court and to finish. I really put into perspective that we had to fight for 40 minutes, doing what we could do best for the team, playing hard, getting stops, all to get the win, while people fight 24/7 every day for their lives.

This night really struck me and made me think about an influential man in my life. My elementary gym teacher, who also was a coach, friend and mentor, was someone close to me while I was growing up back home. From the days of sharing Oreos at lunch to my junior year of high school, before he passed from cancer, we always had a special connection with one another through sports.

He pushed me, motivated me and always supported me. He never gave up fighting. Sometimes it’s hard to understand how such an intelligent, strong, inspirational man could be taken down, but when we shared final words with one another, I came to realize he lived with passion every day, touching so many lives, and living a legacy that was absolutely remarkable. I couldn’t help but think of him on this night and the words, which are always in my mind, that he left me with. He said he would always be there watching and cheering just like he was back in the day. Walking off the court, I knew he was there as we got the win.

We couldn’t have asked for a better crowd Saturday night. With them helping to make Hilton rock, and with our team battling to the end, we walked away smiling with a huge victory on such a special night for many.

Fighting our way out of a slump

February, 3, 2014
Jadda BuckleyCal Sport Media/AP ImagesAfter losing four in a row, Iowa State won at Texas Tech on Jan. 25 and then again at home Saturday against Kansas State.

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” assistant coach Billy Fennelly told me recently, and it has stuck with me throughout the past few days.

A bad stretch, a losing streak, a slump -- whatever anyone wants to call it -- we realize this has been a tough time for our team. Beginning the season with such an amazing start, a 14-0 record, and hitting a time like now, where we have lost five of our past seven games, has become tough and very personal for our team.

This is when you see true character. We’ve seen the passion, with the losses becoming personal. We’ve also seen the frustration, with heads down when missing shots. But most important, we’ve seen our team chemistry. A simple tap on the back, rallying together, motivating one another, and knowing we have each other’s back has kept us together even stronger.

Our win at Texas Tech on Jan. 25, which halted a four-game losing streak, was a huge victory for our team. As Coach said to us, and in the postgame news conference, nobody back home knows how much that win meant for us moving forward. It brought a fresh sense of energy, motivation, and it brought us together as a team even more.

Saturday, we had a chance to win at home. We were tired of losing, and our passion for the game and for Iowa State basketball had us ready for Kansas State. We were determined to not only get that win but to show our fans what Iowa State ball is all about and what we can really do.

We stood tall, with our heads high and played with “no regrets.” The result was an 84-65 victory.

Off to an amazing start at 13-0

January, 6, 2014
Jadda Buckley Iowa State AthleticsIowa State finished undefeated in nonconference play for the third time in school history.

Right after our last nonconference game, we all knew it was a clean slate. Coach told us right away our record was now 0-0.

However, coming out of nonconference with an11-0 record wasn’t a bad way to head into the Big 12 schedule. It was just the third time in school history the Cyclones have gone undefeated in nonconference play.

As Coach [Bill] Fennelly put it, we don’t get a big award or banner hung, but the pride of winning those games counts for a lot. It gave us that boost going into conference play, especially with our first two Big 12 games on the road.

Going into conference play was something new. I instantly noticed the pace, style and atmosphere of the game had changed.

Our first away game at TCU was a solid win to start off our conference play. Heading right back on the road with a matchup against a ranked Oklahoma team was going to be huge. With a close, exciting game throughout, plus overtime, we ended with an amazing team win over Oklahoma.

A 13-0 record is amazing. We’ve been told this is the best start in school history, but that’s exactly what this is -- just a start. There’s a lot of work to be done. As Coach says every game, it’s all about the “next 40 minutes.”

Unrivaled emotions

December, 23, 2013
Jadda BuckleyIowa State AthleticsJadda Buckley and Iowa State were inspired before the game against Iowa by emails from Cyclones supporters.

Growing up in Iowa, I'd always been exposed to the in-state rivalry between Iowa State and Iowa. Cheering and watching as a fan, however, didn't come close to preparing me for the day that I would set foot on the court.

With it being our first Top 25 matchup of the season, the preparations had already begun a week earlier, and with that came nerves, excitement and anxiety -- a range of emotions that I never imagined.

With palms sweaty, legs shaking and nerves rising, it was about time to hit the floor, but first, head coach Bill Fennelly had a pregame talk with us. Walking in with a stack of emails in one hand -- from season-ticket holders sharing their joy and love of ISU basketball to previous players expressing the passion and incredible feeling of Hilton Magic -- he wasted no time cutting to the point: It all came down to going into the next 40 minutes with "no excuses and no regrets."

Nothing can describe the rush I felt when running out in front of 10,000-plus fans with the band roaring. We were prepared and it was time to execute. The game brought a whole new level of excitement; with Brynn [Williamson] hitting 3’s, Nikki [Moody] dropping dimes and Hallie [Christofferson] outhustling everyone, the team and Hilton itself were rocking.

As Hilton emptied after the game that night, I found a quick, quiet moment to myself. At last, I finally felt nothing but one simple emotion: joy. Our team was not only walking away with a victory over the Hawkeyes, but keeping our undefeated record as well.

Embracing transition to college

December, 9, 2013
Jadda BuckleyIowa State AthleticsStarting school during the summer was a big help in easing the transition for freshmen such as Jadda Buckley.

Hello everyone, my name is Jadda Buckley and I’m a freshman guard at Iowa State University. It’s crazy to think my college career is already off and running. Every incoming freshman hears the talk about the transition from high school to college, but it’s never put into perspective until you’re actually living it every day.

No doubt the senior class here at Iowa State has been nothing but a huge help in easing us freshmen into the routines, customs and habits of the team. Their help throughout the beginning of the year was much needed, whether it was from simple hints like what to wear during practice to a huge heads up on the differences between “Deb time’’ versus “Coach Fen time.”

For those non-Iowa Staters, “Deb time” is named after coach’s wife and means arrive on time for the specific activity. “Coach Fen time,” on the other hand, means although the schedule says 6 p.m., it really means 5:45 p.m., if not earlier!

Regardless, there is no avoiding having those typical freshman moments. Whether it’s leaving a straightening iron on for five hours or burning multiple packets of Easy Mac to more serious matters of forgetting plays -- it all comes with the journey.

One of the biggest adjustments for me was managing a daily routine. It wasn’t just the typical wake up, go to school, go to practice, go home and repeat, like high school. Coming to college, you add lifting workouts, tutor appointments, team dinners, practices, studying and individual time spent in the gym as well. However, once you get a routine down, it’s a blast.

Being able to come to school during the summer was a huge help for us freshmen. Without the chaos of other college students we were lucky enough to figure out the buildings, bus system (which still is a work in progress for me) and summer workouts. The extra few months really helped us get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t before more than 30,000 students invaded campus in the fall.

As far as the on-court transition goes, the faster pace, the new plays, team chemistry and even coaching, it all came eventually and continues to develop every day. Some days are good and some days are tough, but in the end as coach Bill Fennelly always says, you must “embrace the process.”