Senior Night Speech: Derek Elston

Watch and read what Indiana senior Derek Elston had to say to the fans
at Assembly Hall following his last home game as a Hoosier.
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Transcript of the speech:
Thank you, guys. Thank you. First off, I remember sitting over there
(on the bench) as a freshman, and it was nothing like this. I'm talking
about being in front of at least 10,000 people, and it was nothing like
that my freshman year, so I appreciate you guys sticking around to
listen to our stories.
This is definitely a bittersweet time in my life. It's bitter because I
realize my basketball career at Indiana is coming to an end, and it
really is hard to say goodbye to something that you really, truly have
depended on through tough times and good times. Basketball has always
been there for me, and it's really hard to say goodbye. The sweet part
is we still have a lot of basketball left. You guys have definitely
made this trip worthwhile. From freshman year when we were hardly able
to pay you guys to come in here to last year when we went to the
tourney, having you guys lined up and cheering us on right before we
got to the tournament games. Then there's now. This year we had to kick
500 people out of this place just to make sure there was no fire
emergency or whatever with Hoosier Hysteria. That's unbelievable to
know not only where we have come from, but also where Hoosier Nation
has come from, so we really thank you.
I want to take the time now to thank a few people. My coaches, starting
back in seventh and eighth grade. Coach Grimmel, those guys were there
the first time I ever got my first letter from a college. They were
really the guys who told me that college was a big option for me. Going
into high school, Coach Ken Day, who I know is here, Coach Daugherty,
who texted me and told me he was going to be here. Those guys kept me
on the right course. Even when I came in with (Kelvin) Sampson and
things didn't turn out right, Coach Crean was hired. Not five minutes
after he was hired, I was taken out of class and put into Coach
Daugherty's class. We just sat there and talked, and he said I should
stay here. He told me if I didn't, I would be making the worst decision
of my life. I really thank him for keeping my mind on it.
Now, I really want to thank Coach Crean. Coach Crean, you know as well
as I do that me and my dad have had on and off times. I haven't been
able to stay in touch the way that I would like, and you are that
father figure. You were there to kind of keep my head on straight from
the beginning. My dad instilled in me discipline, and you kept harping
on it. You were there for the passing of my grandpa. You've been there
through all my family issues. The thing is with me, everybody knows I'm
kind of a goofy guy, but you've been the one to keep me level-headed
and making sure I'm doing the right things at the right time. I
couldn't ask for anybody else to do that for me. So I really appreciate
that. Thank you, Coach. (Elston and Crean hug).
Along with that, Coach (Tim) Buckley, me and you both know we've butted
heads a lot, but you've always been the guy I've gone to no matter
what. If I was getting yelled at by Coach Crean or any other assistant,
you grabbed me off to the side and told me what I was doing wrong. The
thing was that you never sugarcoated it. I think that's why me and you
had such a great connection. My father was from North Carolina and that
great system, and when I was growing up, he instilled in me that things
had to be said the right way. You could never sugarcoat it, and you
never did. I thank you very much.
I also want to thank (former strength and conditioning coach Jeff
Watkinson). I know he's not here right now. I want to thank Coach
(Je'Nay) Jackson. Those guys have had to deal with me. My upper body is
pretty big, and my lower body just isn't. I've been working with these
guys the last four years, and that's all we've been trying to do. We're
trying to get me stronger in each and every way. We've battled through
surgeries, this knee surgery. Especially you, Coach Jackson, every day
you were getting me in there and working out and trying to get me back
on the court as soon as possible. I thank you a lot for that. Thank you.
Now, I definitely want to give a special thanks to Mattie White and
Marni Mooney. These are my advisors, and I don't think you guys
understand that when I first got here to college, I never thought I
would graduate, honestly. It's just a part of life. My mom and I had
butted heads about that. But Marni was the one to not only get me to
graduate early but to keep pushing me and pushing me to get my Master's
degree. Like I said, I never thought I would graduate. I never would
have gotten my Master's degree without Marni. I'm getting my Master's
degree in four years here. (applause) Thank you. It's not only the
Master's degree. School is an important part of my life, but I guess I
don't take it as seriously as I should, but whenever me and Marni had
some free time, just coming in and sitting down and talking about old
stories, drawing up pictures for her, talking about the craziest
things, we would. She has a million stories to tell, and I really hope
she doesn't (laughter). But the fact that Marni was there and got me to
graduate with a Master's degree in four years, that's an unbelievable
feeling. So thank you, Marni.
Next, I want to thank my family for being here. I'm very emotional any
time I get to be around my dad just because me and my dad have been
through so much together from AAU back when I was four to my dad
coaching me when I was six, I feel really honored right now that he is
on this court with me. A lot of the times, me and him thought I might
be wearing No. 32 and looking into a sea of light blue and white (North
Carolina colors), but that dream fell short, and I'm so glad that I'm
wearing No. 32 in cream and crimson. The thing with me was I was always
trying to be like my dad, and I realized when I got here-I think it was
Coach Buckley who set me down-I realized that I had to kind of write my
own story instead of looking at it through my father. He was a great
athlete. He did so many things at North Carolina. Coach Buckley kind of
told me it was time to write my own story. The fact that he's here, and
we both get to enjoy me wearing a 32, it's one of my proudest days of
my life to have him up here with me.
To my brothers, my sisters, my stepbrother Zach, these guys are always
the first ones to ask me for tickets (laughter). The reason they ask is
they want to be a part of this experience with me. I've never had a
home game or even away games where these guys aren't here. To know
these guys are always by my side, it's an unbelievable feeling. So
thank you guys.
To my mom… (gets choked up) I've been here for four years, and I think
my mom has probably missed two games. (His mother corrects him that she
has only missed one) She has only missed one game of my whole career.
To have someone like that… I'm not going to stand up here and say I'm
the best player, but to have my mom come and support me every night,
give me a kiss before every game, tell me she loves me after every
game, you don't know what that does for me. I don't have a lot of
people in my life, and I'm sure glad I'm sitting up here with this
group of people right now. So if you're going to make a big applause, I
would really like it to be on this line.
That said, I'm up here with three of my best… well, two of my best
friends. I'm up here with two of my best friends. (laughter) I'm not
only up here with two of my best friends. I'm up here with two guys who
came in here with me. We did an interview right back there when we
first got here, and we always said to the reporters that we were going
to be the group to bring it back. Everybody kind of looked at us like
we were crazy. I don't think we really knew what we were getting
ourselves into, and I know everybody has kind of heard it before, but
what we've done to instill in these guys coming up, and even from the
guys before us - Kory (Barnett), Dan (Moore), Tom (Pritchard), Verdell
(Jones III), Matt (Roth) - those guys instilled in us what we're
instilling in this group. I know we three sit up here right now, and
think about what life was like our freshman year. Now we come out to a
sold-out crowd every single game, and I thank you guys every day. I
know we took care of business, for the most part, with something on
this side of the wall (the conference championship banner side). Now,
we have more games to play, but here in a few weeks, it's time to go
take care of something on that wall. Thank you, guys. You've made this
so fun for me. I love you guys.