Mackenzie Engram #FarewellTour2018 turns into reality

ATHENS, Ga. — Three, two, one … game over! As the final buzzer went off, University of Georgia’s senior forward Mackenzie Engram’s time on the court as a Lady Bulldog came to an end. Georgia survived up until the Duke Blue Devils defeated them in the second round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament, 66-40.

On social media, Engram has labeled her last season: #FarewellTour2018. Her emotions immediately burst out as reality struck that this game was done, and it actually came her time to say goodbye to her basketball career at Georgia.

2.png“Obviously it’s a disappointment,” said Engram. “Coach Joni told me she was proud of me, and I tried to keep it together because I didn’t know if the camera was on me or not, so when I got to my brother, I just let it all out. I didn’t’ really care at that point. He just tried to encourage me and just said what Coach Joni said, that what we’ve done for this program is unbelievable, and I’m just so happy to be a part of something so special.”

For Engram’s last time suiting up in the Stegeman Coliseum, the Lady Blue Devils shut down Engram and her team’s offense with their tough two-three zone defense. Duke’s length underneath the basket and incredible movement contained her to only scoring five points and grabbing down six rebounds to wrap up the matchup.

“I’m not sad that we lost,” said Engram. “I’m sad that I’ll never get to play with this team again. I’m sad that this was my last time putting Georgia on my chest … playing in the Steg. I’m so proud of what we’ve done and like Coach Joni said, ‘this game does not define us.’ I’m not sad about the loss, I’m sad that when I walk out of the locker room, that’s my last time.”

Not only is Engram’s departure personally tough for her, but also for Engram’s partner in crime on the floor, Cailya Robinson. Robinson and Engram have been a dynamic duo on both ends of the court, that has opened up many opportunities for the abundance of success Georgia experienced this season.

“Playing with Mackenzie has been great,” Robinson said. “We were effective on the court because of our chemistry, which made it easier for us to work together. I think it played well in the game, which has helped us a lot, and I’m going to miss her.”

Engram said it was special to be in the NCAA tournament and for it to be on their home floor. Georgia’s message this week has been “enjoy where we are, and enjoy what we’ve done,” and that’s what she has done, realizing that this is it for her. Engram left the court with a standing ovation from fans and witnesses, who have watched what she has done for the program for the past four years.

“I just kind of took a look around and knew this is it,” said Engram.

Engram has left her mark

Engram has been one of the main faces of the women’s basketball program at the University of Georgia since 2014.

As a freshman, she made an immediate name for herself. Engram saw action in all 31 games and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.

During her final season as a senior captain, Engram was able to help Georgia climb back to the top having a memorable 26-7 season.

Engram helped her team tie with South Carolina for second place in the Southeastern Conference and advance to the quarterfinals of the 2018 SEC tournament.

Engram also led her team to host and win their first NCAA tournament game since 2003, defeating Mercer, 68-63. Engram finished that game with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

During her #FarewellTour2018, she averaged 12.9 points and seven rebounds per game and can walk away with the milestone of scoring her 1,000th career score against LSU on Feb. 4.

The two seniors, Engram and Haley Clark had a mission to leave a mark on the court during their last season as a Lady Bulldog.

“[Engram and Clark] came together, and they wanted to leave Georgia in a prominent position, and they’ve done more than that,” said Coach Joni Taylor. “You look at what they do on the basketball court, but they’re even better women off the court.

“The things they are involved in with the community and the way they represent us on and off the floor is something that I can only hope the rest of our young ladies look up to and aspire to be.”

The two seniors, Engram and Haley Clark had a mission to leave a mark on the court during their last season as a Lady Bulldog.

“[Engram and Clark] came together, and they wanted to leave Georgia in a prominent position, and they’ve done more than that,” said Coach Joni Taylor. “You look at what they do on the basketball court, but they’re even better women off the court.

“The things they are involved in with the community and the way they represent us on and off the floor is something that I can only hope the rest of our young ladies look up to and aspire to be.”

Engram May Not Say Farewell So Soon

In May, Engram will graduate from one of the top journalism programs in the country to prepare for her spotlight as a sports reporter. She knew this was the path she wanted to take the first time she visited the University of Georgia on her recruiting trip.

Engram accepted her college basketball days coming to an end and prepared to step into the life as a sports broadcaster, but with the assistance of her agent, the ball may continue to bounce by possibly being picked up by a team in the WNBA draft or even overseas.

“I don’t think the Farewell Tour is over yet,” said Engram. “I am currently still looking to play whether that’s in the WNBA or overseas. I think the fact that I know there is a possibility that I can still play, that ‘ending feeling’ hasn’t really hit me yet.

“Now as far as technically not being a UGA women’s basketball player, it hit me pretty hard when I got a group text with a workout message and I had to leave the group since I won’t be participating in those anymore.”

This decision to continue recently changed for Engram. She was not aware that WNBA and overseas teams were looking at her to join them.

“When I talked to my coach and she told me that she heard my name bouncing around I just thought to myself, ‘Am I really done playing’ And I don’t believe that I am,” Engram said. “I feel like I have a couple more years left in me. So, the draft is on April 12th and I’ll know more about what’s next after that night.

If that does not work out, Engram will take on the two post-graduate internships she was awarded for the summer and fall term. Along the way, she has made a valuable connection with former Georgia basketball and volleyball player and current SEC host, Maria Taylor, who is now her mentor. Taylor allows Engram to shadow her and also critiques any work that Engram produces.

“She has been amazing,” said Engram. “Whenever I text/call her she always answers. She is constantly helping me perfect my craft by watching my videos and telling me what I should keep doing or what I need to get better at. I am very thankful to have a mentor like Maria. She’s so loving and kind and definitely someone I dream to end up like.”

With basketball being a full-time job, Engram finds time each week to get broadcasting experience as a reporter for Georgia’s SEC Weekly Recap for the women’s basketball team.

Engram also has a website, where she produces all of her own original content. This website was designed for Engram to work on her writing content while producing motivational posts that will possibly impact others’ lives.

Engram’s final words for her Farewell Tour

Even though Engram will trade in her basketball shoes for a microphone, this game will always be in her heart. Sports broadcasting will be a different avenue for her to take to express the love she has for basketball.

The relationships Engram has created have been the best take away from her experience. She said Georgia’s basketball program has made her a better player but also developed her into a better person.

“This game has changed my life,” Engram said. “It has brought me tears, bruises, floor burns, and pain, but most of all it has brought me happiness and memories that I will remember forever.”

After her last game against Duke, Engram sent out a final message via Twitter to thank all of her fans for supporting her throughout the year’s she has been here.

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