By Steven Braid, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 15, 2012
She feared that her son would miss out on the right opportunity waiting for a call that might never come.
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As he approached the start of his senior season at Michigan, all Stuart wanted was to keep playing. He knew his future after Michigan was dependent on the upcoming season, on how well he performed.
The Big Ten had always been his dream, but now he wanted more.
“Just the return ( that basketball) has given me with bringing me here and all the great people you meet and all the great teachers you meet — you just don’t want to give that up.” – Stuart Douglass, Dec. 8, 2011
December 8 — Stuart slid into a chair in the lobby of the Ross Academic Center. It was barely a month into the season, but he seemed exhausted. Maybe all the traveling the team had done had taken its toll on him, or maybe it was his inconsistent play. Whatever the cause was, he looked weary.
“Things have gone by pretty fast,” Stuart admitted.
Three weeks earlier, he was loose. He wasn’t worried. He wasn’t stressed. He was at ease.
But one month into the season, things had changed. No longer waiting for his senior season to start, he was nine games into the season and trying to slow things down.
“It makes you appreciate how much time you had at such a great school. The emotions are starting to build up a little bit — you don’t really notice it — when you think that you’re never going to get that game back or that you’re never going to play this team again. It’s just kind of weird to think about.”
Since scoring 14 points, grabbing five boards and dishing four assists in the season-opener against Ferris State, Stuart had mixed poor showings with efficient performances.
He was pressing and it was unsettling for him. With every sub-par game came the weight of unmet expectations — his own lofty expectations — and his lasting legacy.
“It’s one last game you have to make a lasting impression on people, and after this year you very well may be easily forgotten. Every day you’re working to make your impression and it is added pressure. It is added pressure that I didn’t really expect thinking about it at the beginning of the year.”
Or maybe the pressure had always been there, quiet, unacknowledged. Maybe it was there from the day he turned down Harvard.
But it didn’t matter when the pressure settled, just that it did. What Stuart needed then was to rid himself of all the expectations and just play basketball. He needed it to be fun again.
“You thought senior year you were going to let loose and be more comfortable. It hasn’t quite turned out how I wanted it to.”
And then the conversation turned towards his future.
“(Playing professionally is) the kind of thing I want. No matter how short it is, or how little I play, or even if I don’t play at all — it will be just another learning experience.”
And as Stuart noted, though it would have been smart for him to start preparing for a life without basketball and thinking about an alternative plan just in case, he just couldn’t get himself to think about it. He wanted to put off job-searching until later so he could focus solely on basketball.
“I don’t want to put too many eggs in one basket.”
He paused, and then confessed:
“But sometimes, it’s hard not to.”
“I take volleyball super seriously, and I always forget that it’s honestly just a game. Not only is it just a game, but this is probably the most fun and most free that you are going to be for the rest of your life. And when you come into the gym, you have an opportunity to set aside everything else.” – Alex Hunt, Oct. 18, 2011
October 18 — Fear.
That’s what motivated Alex more than anything. She feared her career ending before she wanted it to, and she feared playing poorly during the final weeks of her career — she feared leaving the wrong legacy behind.
Four weeks earlier, this uneasiness wouldn’t have arisen. Alex was playing well and had helped the Wolverines to an undefeated nonconference record, 12-0. But in the middle of October, fear, rational fear, slowly crept into her mind.