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I Went FOUR It All!

By: Annabelle Anderson

Welcome to the Women’s Final Four Recap. I’m Annabelle Anderson, the youngest news anchor in Tampa Bay! I appreciate the opportunity to have partnered with the Tampa Sports Commission and the NCAA Women’s Final Four to create a lifetime memory through this incredible event. This experience has taught me so much, and I am grateful for the amazing team of Press Pass Girls. We had great laughs, many quick dance parties, and learned how to create our own stories together. Now, let’s head to the Women’s Final Four Championship to get a quick look.

Everyone cheered in amazement until the final seconds of the 4th quarter. Both teams pushed themselves to their limits, and their hard work memorized me. The colorful rainbow of confetti filled the air in Amalie Arena and dropped on the fans faces as Baylor University fought to win the NCAA Women's Final Four. I stood frozen as I realized all my hard work brought me to this moment.

The days before the games were filled with community events that brought people together. Families and friends gathered at Curtis Hixon Park and Tampa Convention Center’s Tourney Town to celebrate the excitement of the Women’s Final Four. The BOUNCE event was a parade for children to dribble their brightly colored basketballs along the Riverwalk path and then celebrate their accomplishment at Tourney Town with big smiles on their faces.

On the day of semifinals, the sound of children cheering for each of the four basketball teams filled Tourney Town as they prepared for the big games. The children felt accomplished celebrating the success of the Read to the Final Four challenge, and their facial expressions told a story of joy. Booths were spread out with areas to entertain and create excitement for the children, parents, and teachers.

On stage, talented women shared their journey through sports with Beyond the Baseline. I had the opportunity to watch a group speak about the importance of being involved in sports and showing leadership in the community. It taught me that even although I might not participate in sports when I am older, I can still use it as a leadership advantage.

Through multiple events, I was rewarded by the excitement brought to the community and learned something new after each experience.

My experience filming the NCAA presentation as the youngest news anchor in Tampa Bay gave me a connection with the organizing committee. I learned multiple video recordings look the best once you are comfortable with the topic and it is okay to laugh at your mistakes because even the pros make mistakes.

Beyond Barriers, held on National Girls & Women in Sports Day brought powerful women to the stage to join together to make a significant impact. I learned that using your voice is most important anywhere you go because it is what leads to change. Each of the women on stage had to fight for something in their life that lead them to where they wanted to be. These messages are important to me as I continue to believe cheering for the success of others is what really matters.

I used articles, social media, photos and interviews to capture enthusiasm. During the Gasparilla Parade, I walked beside the convertible as a press photographer. After learning from my first experience at the USF Bulls game, I created ways to grab audience attention and made sure the photo was focused. The event was full of excitement, and everyone looked so happy in my photographs because I learned how to capture smiles properly.

For the past 20 weeks, I worked as a Press Pass member with the hardworking staff at the Tampa Sports Commission to advertise for the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Claire Lessinger, Jordyn Tramble, Michael Farrant, and Jessica Eckley made my experience absolutely wonderful. I am thankful for being selected to participate and want to continue my involvement in the community to bring excitement to Tampa Bay. I am beyond grateful for the group of mentors that helped me along the way and taught me life lessons to use in the future. “If you can see her, you can be her.”

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