I can’t remember a time when basketball was not a part of my life. I grew up watching my mom’s semi-professional basketball games in Germany, so the team environment was ingrained in me. I started playing basketball myself, and this past season was my fifth, and final year playing for my university. I came into the program so excited to learn and grow as a player, excited to play with and against some great players. I had so many goals for the team, and dreams for myself. I put in a lot of hard work, but I did it gladly. I truly loved going to (most) every practice and game. My team did not win the regional title in my first four years, something I wanted more than anything. In my fifth year, I knew it was my last chance. And as a third time captain of the team, I believed I had the opportunity to lead us to the championship game. After preseason, a coaches’ poll was released, which placed us in last place. This was just the extra motivation I, and the team needed to work our hardest and prove others wrong.
Although often the stats might not have shown it, that was the best team I have ever been a part of. With half returning, and half new players, we bonded and became a unit who worked hard every day for each other, and always had each other’s backs. But then, with seven games left in the season, I broke both bones in my arm, requiring surgery and four months recovery. The season continued and as the days and weeks went on, I came to the realization that I would miss out on ever playing in the championship game or at nationals for my school, something that I dreamed about so often. But in that moment, with the team approaching playoffs, that was not the thought that made me most upset. I realized that what I would miss the most is simply being on the court with the girls on the team, being able to work hard for them and help them. Not surprisingly, my teammates were incredibly supportive and caring of me, and I was just so happy to still be able to watch practices and games and help in any way that I could. And although the playoffs came and went, and we went home empty handed again, I still consider it the best team I was a part of.
When I started playing university basketball, I would hear older, graduating athletes say that what they would miss the most is their teammates, the people they had met. I would think, that’s not me, I’m going to miss actually playing basketball the most. Now, five years later, I look back and I know for sure that the people I have met through basketball and the teammates I had, especially on this year’s team, are the ones I learned from the most, enjoyed spending time with the most, and will miss the most. Basketball has made me a better person in every aspect of my life, and I am thankful to so many of the teammates and coaches I have had on every team.