It Happened Against Mississippi State

by Shan Foster '08

"He was my blessing sent to shift me into the next season of my life."

When I returned to Vanderbilt for my senior year, my goals had changed tremendously.

Seeing my teammate Derrick Byars have success the year before, I made it a point to work harder than I ever had before to reach even higher heights. Our assistant coach at the time was King Rice, now head coach at Monmouth.

He was my blessing sent to shift me into the next season of my life.

Coach Rice saw the best in me. I remember his first few months on campus, when he was living in dorms while waiting for his house to be ready and the rest of his family to come. We spent so much time in the gym working hard and just talking. He never allowed me to settle for the norm. Excellence and greatness were the goals and we worked for it daily. When someone sees more in you than you see in yourself, it will push you past your own expectations.

Midway through the season, college basketball seemed easier than it had ever been before. I was averaging over 20 points a game and shooting 50% from three-point range. We were undefeated at home and beating most teams convincingly. Kentucky came into our place and we beat them by 41. Tennessee came into Memorial as the No. 1 team in the country and we won by three points on CBS. I scored 32 points in that game.

We finished the season undefeated at home due to a magical game at Memorial Gymnasium.

We we’re playing Mississippi State for senior night, my last time playing in front of my most loyal and enthusiastic family, friends, and fans. The script couldn’t have been written any sweeter. The stage was set, and the gym was standing room only, louder than it had ever been before.

As I finished my pregame ritual of gospel music, I prayed that God would allow me to honor all of Vandy’s fans with my play. I just wanted to have one last great performance, not for myself, but for all of them. They had been so faithful to me and my family for those four years that I wanted my efforts to reflect my gratitude.

At about the nine-minute mark of the second half I finally hit my first three-pointer and never looked back. As the defense tried to play zone, double team, and deny me the ball, I kept shooting further and further back, and I kept making them. Nothing they did phased me. My teammates were getting excited as we mounted a comeback.

On our final possession, we had no more timeouts and just had to play. Of course, I was being guarded by their quickest defender and being denied. The ball went to the opposite side of the floor, I’m trying to shake loose. I shot the ball over outstretched arms.

This moment seemed like much longer than the seconds it took for the ball to reach the rim.

I felt like I had left it short, but the Lord lifted it up. The ball went through the nets and the crowd went crazy.

My teammates rushed me, picked me up in extreme excitement. Many said it was the greatest performance they had ever seen. My teammates chanted “I was a witness!” I finished the game with 42 points, hitting nine threes in a row.

I ran to my family and embraced them. My mom and my grandma screamed, “We did it!” And I replied in my grandma’s ear, “No, God did it!”

As told by Shan Foster (AMEND vice president of external affairs) to Andrew Maraniss


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