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Albany Great Danes do things the right way

Albany Great Danes do things the right way

Women's team facing Florida in NCAA tourney today has earned our cheers

We all like it when someone local gets a chance to shine on the big stage.

But it's even more satisfying when it's someone you can be proud of, not just because where they're from, but because of who they are.

We all loved it when Sawyer Fredericks, the mild-mannered farm boy from Fultonville, was on his way to winning the biggest TV singing competition in the nation. But it wasn't just because he was from around here. It was because he came from humble beginnings and had a work ethic and showed respect and had family values — things of which we can all be proud and aspire to.

We loved it that former Glens Falls high school basketball star Jimmer Fredette got another chance to play in the NBA with the Knicks last month. And it wasn't just because we like having a local guy in the pros.

His promotion from the D-league represented a shot at redemption for a nice, polite kid from a good family who visits sick children and remembers where he came from, and who personifies the qualities of hard work and dedication.

And it's for that reason that while many of us might not give women's college basketball a second thought during the course of a regular day, we should all be behind the UAlbany women's basketball team when they tip off against Florida at noon today in Syracuse for the start of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

Sure, it's cool that a local team has made it to the big dance. But it's even cooler that it's this team — a team that does things right.

The Great Danes are led by coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, who has lifted a struggling program to national prominence in a few short years, not just with her skills at coaching basketball, but with her dedication to helping confident young women become strong, empowered adults.

A role model in her own right simply because she has succeeded as a woman in a profession dominated by men, Abrahamson-Henderson also leads by extending the lessons of sports to real life, promoting professional conduct on and off the court, and teaching her charges how to relate outside the campus. Her teams are not just prepared physically, but mentally — preparation that will follow them long after they march off the campus with their diplomas.

This game, too, is a shot a redemption for a team that has won five conference championships, but is looking for its first tournament win today after a crushing collapse in the first round of the NCAAs last year.

We're not rooting for them just because they're from Albany, just because they’re the local team in the tournament.

We're rooting for them because of who they are and what they represent. We're rooting for them because they lead by example and demonstrate values we admire. We’re rooting for them because they do things the right way.

Go Danes!

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