Let The Madness Begin
It’s an extra special time of year for sports fans. Buzzwords like “bubble teams,” “brackets,” “Cinderella team,” and “buzzer beaters” are being tossed around. Basketball fans are rallying for the tournament, and we couldn't be more excited here at Athletic Brewing.
So what is all the hype about?
It’s about the college basketball national championship.
This is an exciting time of year for sports fans, so we sat down to chat with some of our Athletic Brewing athletes whose teams are playing in the tournament. Read on to learn more about some of our athletes and how Athletic Brewing has impacted their performance.
Why the Madness?
The tournament usually runs from mid-March through the beginning of April. This tournament is the culmination of hundreds of college basketball teams vying for one of the 68 spots.
The term “madness” captures the excitement surrounding the tournament as the teams compete in three weeks of games to be crowned with the title of national champions. Out of 68 teams, only 16 teams make it past the first weekend. The second weekend narrows the teams down to eight, and the third weekend presents the last four teams in the tournament.
The national championship tournament was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The tournament returned in 2021, but it lacked a lot of the usual fanfare – pep bands and cheer squads were absent, while prerecorded music bounced off of mostly-empty stadium walls. The rowdy crowds and screaming fans were nowhere to be seen.
The pandemic disrupted sports around the world, but it appears that ticket sales and courts are going to reach to full capacity this year. That makes for an extra-exciting experience for those of us who are watching. The March tournament is a whirlwind of games, upsets, and Cinderella stories, and it’s a time to meet up with friends, celebrate wins, and watch basketball all day long.
Athletic Ambassador and shooting guard on the women’s team at South Carolina, Brea Beal, is using last season to motivate herself and her team. Last year her team lost in the second to last round, and that loss is her fuel to dominate this year. “You’ve gotta be able to feel the loss – that downhill of your journey – to be able to pivot and go uphill, or pivot and be better next time,” she says. “We have to take advantage of every time we’re on the court and don’t slip up.”
There are a total of 67 individual games played throughout the national championship, giving sports fans ample opportunity to watch multiple games a day throughout the weeks.
Basketball as a Lifestyle
Many of the athletes who are playing in the tournament started their basketball career when they were very young. Dalen Terry, small forward on the Arizona men’s team, has been playing since he was only four years old.
“I’ve been playing basketball for as long as I can remember,” says Terry. “When I was seven, I started spending parts of my summers at Chandler-Gilbert Community College where my Aunt, Cassandra Yancy, was the women’s basketball coach.”
Taylor Chavez, shooting guard on the women’s team for Arizona, started playing around the same age. “My older sister, and older cousins all played, as well as my parents,” she says. “It was an activity we did in the front yard... The first team I ever played on was with my older sister and cousin, I was four and every other kid was seven.”
The national championship tournament is a thrilling and demanding time for the college teams and players participating in the tournament. The athletes have to show up to practice and games every day. They have to stay focused and be present. They can’t let the stresses from everyday college life slip into their game.
However, Ashley Owusu, small forward on the Maryland women’s team, knows that lessons learned from playing basketball can spill over into everyday life. “One thing basketball has taught me that carries over to real life is you can't get too high or too low,” Owusu says. “I have won a lot of games and lost a lot of games and no matter the outcome I am going to learn from whatever has happened so that I can move forward in the right direction.”
Taylor Chavez (Arizona) echoes that sentiment saying, “I have experienced so many highs and lows in basketball, and this has taught me to show resilience and keep a positive mindset.”
Staying on Top of Their Game
For some, college is synonymous with parties and drinking. With the feverish energy of the tournament, social gatherings will be inevitable. Wins and losses will drive folks together to celebrate or commiserate. But the college-age athletes take their health and wellness seriously. Training, practice, and games are demanding, and a tournament like this requires intense attention.
“You have to come in focused every day, ready for a challenge every day,” says Brea Beal (South Carolina). “You have to walk in with your head on right. Every day I’m challenged to be a better me or find something to add to my game, to make me a better player and better person. I like being challenged like that on a daily basis.”
Most sports fans notice the physicality of an athlete, but performance comes down to what is going on in the athlete’s mind. Mental training is paramount to performance. Just like physical injury, the mind has the power to derail a victory. Athletes have to stay sharp to stay on their game.
Taylor Chavez (Arizona) has noticed a trend amongst college athletes where there’s less drinking and more self-awareness in what they consume. “Athletes are much more conscientious about it during the season,” she says. “Our bodies are so easily impacted by the things we consume, and alcohol takes a toll. I notice such a difference in my performance when I place an importance on my diet and health.”
Chavez isn’t the only one who has noticed this trend, either. As it turns out, surveys over the past 30 years have shown that the percentage of college students who drink alcohol is declining, and this decline in alcohol consumption was likely exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Nutrition is very important to me. I am not able to perform to the best of my ability if I'm not eating and drinking the right things,” says Ashley Owusu (Maryland). “I have noticed a lot of college athletes tend to stay away from alcohol during the season... I know a lot of my friends that are college athletes are very conscious about alcohol consumption because they are afraid of messing up their career.”
Luckily, college athletes and sports enthusiasts can still gather, celebrate, and cheer without having to compromise when it comes to setting or achieving their goals. Athletic Lite is a light brew, completely reimagined. It’s classically simple but expertly crafted with 25 calories, 5 carbs, and grains. It’s the perfect brew for people who want to set big goals, but also want to celebrate wins along the way, which is why our athletes love it.
“Athletic has been the perfect balance of giving me an alternative without compromising on taste and enjoyment,” says Dalen Terry (Arizona).
You don’t have to feel guilty about drinking beer while watching all-day tournaments, or while celebrating a win while keeping your eye on the next game. Athletic Lite will keep you hangover-free so you can keep crushing your goals every day.
Whether you’re on the court or cheering from the sidelines, we brewed it specifically for the sport of life and all the good times that come with it.