What is an Aggie?

You've probably been asked, "What's an Aggie?" a million times. But what do you tell them? Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp has another example that you can throw out after watching one of the gutsiest efforts from any Texas A&M student athlete in recent memory.

‘What is an Aggie?'

It's a question you've no-doubt been asked before—especially if you've ever traveled to an A&M sporting event outside the state of Texas. You probably just told them that it comes from the school's agriculture heritage and it sounded a lot better than "Farmers," or something to that effect, smiled, and went on your way.

But an Aggie is more than a farmer. An Aggie is tough. An Aggie is proud.

An Aggie is the lineman whose knuckles are cut and bruised from fighting in the trenches each day at practice and every Saturday at Kyle Field. Every muscle in his body aches, but he's going to work out for two hours at Netum Steed this morning. Again.

An Aggie is also the Lieutenant serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. You know, the one that hasn't seen his wife and kids in nearly two years, and brushes sand out of his teeth at night from the sandstorm earlier that afternoon, while working in the 120-degree heat.

But an Aggie doesn't always go to war with an AK-47 and an armored tank. Sometimes, an Aggie goes to battle with pig tails and a tennis skirt.

Texas A&M senior Anna Blagodarova defined what it means to be a Texas Aggie on Saturday night in the semi-finals of the Big 12 Tournament against the University of Texas.

After falling in her match against Oklahoma State on Friday, (0-6, 0-6) Blagodarova was determined to win the final match that she'll ever play against the arch-rival Longhorns at the Mitchell Tennis Center. After jumping out to an early lead, she appeared to be well on her way after taking the first set, 6-2, against Texas' Stephanie Davison on court No. 3. But Davison came back to take the second set, 6-3.

As the two began the third set of the match, it became clear that this match would decide which team advanced to the Big 12 Championship on Sunday against Baylor, and which team had an extra day off to prepare for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament next weekend.

Trailing 3-2 in the third set things seemed to come crashing down for Blagodarova, who was forced to take a medical timeout during the changeover due to cramps in her left quad. Davison broke serve on the ensuing game to go up 4-2 and things seemed to be coming to an end for the senior, who desperately wanted to play one more match at the Mitchell Tennis Center.

Now, there's little doubt that when P.H. DuVal Jr, Texas A&M Class of 1951, penned, "I've seen 'em lose and I've seen 'em win, but I've never seen 'em quit," one of the most famous lines from The Last Corps Trip, he never had any intention of them being used to describe a women's tennis player. But those words were written for moments like these.

During every changeover, Blagodarova received leg massages from the A&M trainer to try to keep her muscles lose. Between every point, she was massaging her own legs. What started with her left quad was now her left hamstring, then it was her right quad, followed by her right hamstring. Before long, her legs were about as strong as jello.

"It was tough, I'm not going to lie," Blagodarova said after the match. "This was my final match at home so I wanted to lay it all out there, but there were times my legs cramped so bad I just wanted to fall down. I know it looked like I couldn't go anymore, but I just kept telling myself to breath and relax. I've cramped before and won, but this is by far the worst cramping I've ever played through because it was both legs and it was from the top to the bottom, I'm talking toes and everything."

But like the group of Aggies described by DuVal, there was no quit in Blagodarova.

Despite the cramps, Blagodarova somehow broke Davison's serve and held that of her own to tie the set at four games apiece and then managed to break Davison's serve yet again to take a 6-5 lead with a chance to serve out the match.

By then, Blagodarova was barely able to stand up, but she kept on fighting.

During one particular point that seemed to last for several minutes, drawing several oohs and ahhs from the crowd, both players appeared to be exhausted. They were no longer hitting forehands and backhands, they were just hitting. They were using the same technique they had used the first time they picked up a tennis racket—maybe even worse.

It was no longer about placement, it was about getting the ball over the net and hoping that it landed in bounds. Then it was about hoping that the other player would hit it out of bounds or into the net. Anything to make the pain stop.

During the never-ending back-and-forth volleys, Blagodarova screamed, "Oh my God," when she was forced to track down another return from Davison.

"I'm never going to forget that point," Blagodarova said. "I was having to walk and hit the ball. I've never played tennis while I was walking. I wanted to finish the point earlier so I didn't have to stay in point too long but she just seemed to be getting everything back (over the net) and I just got to the point where I couldn't walk at all."

Unfortunately Davison went on to break serve to tie the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker, which she would go on to win, 7-4, sending the Horns to the Big 12 Championship match on Sunday against Baylor.

But Blagodarova went down with the same fight that you'd expect from the lineman and the Lieutenant. She may have lost but she never quit.

Anna Blagodarova showed that she is tough. She showed that she is proud. And she showed that she is a Texas Aggie—pig tails and all.


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