South Carolina head coach Frank Martin lumbered up to the table in the media conference room in Glendale, Ariz., with a solemn face. It was a tough night as his Gamecocks had just lost a Final Four matchup against Gonzaga, 77-73, and their hopes of bringing a championship back to South Carolina were gone.
After he sat down, a reporter asked Martin about a message he may have for disappointed fans back home. It wasn’t long before Martin began to tear up.
“There were a lot of kids back home in South Carolina who were cheering their hearts out for you today,” the reporter said. “They dream of playing for you one day. What do you want to say to them as fans of you and the team, and also about how to respond to disappointments like this?”
Martin took a moment and put his head in his palm and rubbed his temple.
“There’s something powerful when you impact others,” Martin said. “And what these kids have done is pretty special. When you get people to travel across the country by the masses because they believe in what you do, it’s powerful stuff.”
He continued: “And they’ve impacted our community in an unbelievable way, which is worth so much more than the score of a game. It’s what it’s all about. These kids are great role models. There’s a lot of young kids that want to be the next Sindarius Thornwell, Justin McKie, and I don’t get to coach them anymore, but they’re part of my life forever.”
The first thing Martin talked about when the final buzzer sounded was his community. When CBS’s Tracy Wolfson asked him what he was going to tell his players after this loss, he had a poignant response.
“People keep score when you play games 35, 36, 37 times a year. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. That score eventually goes away. When you impact people by the masses the way these kids have, that means you’re a winner as a human being and that’s what matters. When we get home and they realize what they’ve done in our community, their hearts will open up with joy. The pain of losing a game eventually goes away.”
More Final Four coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Gonzaga fends off South Carolina to advance to national title game
• MSU baseball team had a priceless reaction to Bulldogs ending UConn’s streak
• Gonzaga coach, 54, celebrates win with handstand
• How a lucky bounce saved Gonzaga’s season