Passion is tears of joy over a hard earned success. Hard work is beads of sweat, bruises and dedication. Dedication is time given, committing to your friends, family and those who share with you as much passion, hard work and dedication as you give them. The equation is simple; passion plus hard work plus dedication equals team. I was lucky to have grown up learning how to be part of a team, as part of a family. Being an athlete was, is and always will be one of the most influential and positive roles of my life. For me, being a teammate is not only assisting an attack or ripping the rebound, it’s building strength and reaching goals while sharing the sweat and support that comes along with the process. Being an athlete has taught me how to do this with poise and pride.
From stepping onto the ice by myself as a figure skater at the age of five to running drills with my college basketball team, my skin kept growing thicker and my drive stronger. It was not easy and despite what most people assume, my love of basketball did not come naturally with my 6”2 stature. The first time I tried out for a team was in elementary school when I was thirteen-years-old. I didn’t make the cut. I was so shy, timid, and embarrassed, I got angry with my mom for convincing me to try out.
The following year in high school the coach approached me and I refused sports. I could not succeed, and I did not want to relive the embarrassment. He, however, had other plans. He twisted my rubber arm and got me on the court. A couple of months later I was, though still tripping over my own feet, comfortable. The echoing of the ball and taste of salt was something I was starting to crave. Fast forward three years and my senior coach yelled at me so much I was still embarrassed, not to be in front of a crowd, but because I still lacked the self confidence that she and my previous coach had in me… though it was growing. What I did not know at the time is that it was there all along, a tiny seed waiting for the rain, waiting to blossom and dance like flames of a fire. All I needed was some ignition.
In college I got the kick that I needed, the extra gasoline to make the flames soar. My coach taught me how to handle pressure, how to make the best out of what I have and to never, ever give up. It doesn’t matter if you’re down thirty points with thirty seconds left, if you’re tired, if you’re sweaty – those are just excuses – keep going. There is always something deep down, rooted in each and every one of us that will keep pushing, that will give one last drive to make it to the end. It is just waiting on the confidence and rain.
I am now, on and off the court, in and out of the gym, independent, strong, a team player and thrive to do better, to help and to be part of something. Sports have taught me that failures make success and that passion, dedication and hard work makes an equation worth a lifetime of happiness.