RIP Squad Diaries
"I really wish I was with them in Mexico and not with my tongue stuck to this pole!"

Nov. 29, 2013

by Courtney Waldon - @WheresWALDOn12

I regret to inform you that I am not writing this from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where the team has battled Stanford and TCU during the Thanksgiving holiday week. While the rest of us bundle up like Randy from "A Christmas Story" to step outside, reliable sources (Twitter and Instagram) make it seem like the team is enjoying the warm weather. That being said, I know what I signed up for and it doesn't include two tickets to paradise, or even one for that matter. I'm not one to complain and since it's the season of giving, I figure it is my duty to give the readers what they want. Most of you probably want a nice nap to recover from the stampeding crowds of Black Friday, but go ahead and add this to your "To Do" list. This week I bring you a list of the Top 5 things I wouldn't have without the Purdue women's basketball RIP Squad. I strongly encourage you to read them in David Letterman's voice.

1. Injuries

I never thought the women's game would be so physical that I'd consider ordering bubble wrap by the roll to protect myself. I can't begin to count the number of bruises I've had over the past three years, but what I can tell you is that the majority of them are due to a select few culprits. Finger-pointing aside, Camille Redmon, Whitney Bays, and former Boiler Drey Mingo are responsible for about 90% of the black and blue on my body. All three wield knife-like elbows and seem to enjoy using them to set screens on my fellow teammates and me. Camille is also the reason I continue to wear a mouthpiece, as I would legitimately have two to three less teeth without it. Thanks to Whitney, I lost the use of my left arm for about 20 minutes during practice earlier this year, catching an elbow from her that caused my entire limb to go limp.



2. Courtney Moses confusion

I have a gender-neutral first name, but the initial reaction from most people is to assume I'm a girl. A Jimmy Johns cashier once asked for my ID because he didn't believe my name was Courtney when I handed him my credit card. Being on the floor with someone who shares this legendary first name is tougher than it sounds. I'm of course talking about Courtney Moses. Everyone usually calls her C-Mo, but her real name gets used when it hits the fan. I know things are serious when my mother uses my middle name, and the situation brings the same level of intensity when Coach Versyp yells my first name. It wouldn't seem like such a big deal, but my head always snaps and I cower a little bit every time Coach Versyp speaks our name above a certain decibel. The reality is that while I'm terribly self-conscious of the situation, it's clear that no one is ever really talking to me.

3. Purdue Gear

One of my favorite scenes in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" features the celebration of Bobby's two children as they stand and yell "Yay, two Christmases!" after Cal Naughton Jr. announces his intent to marry the very-recently separated Mrs. Bobby.

While horribly insensitive to the concept of divorce, I find this scene relevant due to the two Christmases we receive for being an active member of the RIP Squad. Our alternative Santa comes in the form of equipment manager Barb Hack, who hands us an arm full of Purdue gear before official practices start, with an angelic halo above her head and the quiet shuffle of elves working amongst her shelves. Shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, jerseys and car keys (not really, but I dream) are all gifted to us to make us look official for practice. In fact, we look so much a part of the program that I've been publically asked if I'm a member of the men's basketball team. As much as I wanted to say yes, I told the inquiring woman I was part of the women's practice squad. She responded saying, "Yeah I thought you looked a little too young to play for the men's team." (I had no response other than a confused look on my face).

4. B1G Championships

It's the one thing we look forward to all year, the trip to the B1G Tournament. Held near Chicago last year and in Indianapolis the previous season, it's not a big secret around here that we've won back-to-back championships and more tournament championships (NINE!) than anyone in the conference. I've made the trip each of the last two years and the coaching staff has generously treated me and some of my RIP Squad associates to hotel rooms and front row tickets to the games. I can't stay in a hotel without thinking about the "Seinfeld" episode where the maid asks Jerry and George if they want a "tuck" or "no tuck" for their beds.

Last year's shenanigans involved a maid walking into my room while I was sleeping, mooching off the managers, and celebrating at Dave and Busters after taking it to Michigan State in the championship. I remember one part of the postgame celebration in particular that involved Hayden Hamby, Sam Ostarello, another RIP Squad member, myself and a four-player air hockey table. I wouldn't recommend putting four highly-competitive souls around an air hockey table, bad things happen. Hands were smashed and knuckles were busted as the four of us battled, and per usual, the practice squad got whipped. This year we look to make it a three-peat in Indianapolis and you can bet the RIP Squad will be there.

5. Personal Relationships

On a serious note, being a member of the RIP Squad has given me the opportunity to develop close relationships with the players and coaches. Sam Ostarello has become one of my best friends and Drey Mingo asked me to marry her on Twitter after she found out I'm a huge Atlanta Braves fan (I'm consistently let down every October). I have good faith when I say the ladies on the team enjoy having me around, but I could be totally wrong and be absolutely hated. God knows my occasional hot shooting streaks on the practice court would warrant dislike and ire. As for the coaching staff, Coach Versyp has been greater than I ever could have imagined. Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton still has some game, but throws passes like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.

Nadine Morgan works out more than anyone I know and could absolutely put me in the sleeper hold if she wanted. Christy Smith, a former player under Coach Versyp, runs the point guard position when we don't have enough guys show up for practice. She also has more of a six-pack than any of us practice guys.

To say I'm thankful for the Purdue women's basketball program would be an understatement. It ranks up there with the invention of fire, Hostess cupcakes and the three-point line.

We'll be back at it next week when the team finally returns from that awful resort they were forced to reside in and begin to prepare for a matchup against Duke in Durham.


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