My Basketball Season
Junior class president, yearbook editor, student ambassador, and three rigorous AP courses- I was on top of the world and I knew it. I was pumped for the upcoming basketball season, but not only was I excited, the people that surrounded me daily were excited as well. Other coaches, family members, and friends constantly assured me that this year was my year to shine. This pivotal junior year, where a student, a player, transcends into the elite status of an upperclassman, no longer as a JV player, would be the very year where I would rack up the scoring sheet. I walked around school with this arrogance my peers call “swagger.” I was unstoppable, un-guardable, and at the peak of my game. I was ready to make this basketball year, my year. It was not until the first preseason workout until I got a hint that this season could go in a direction I had never expected coming.
There I stood in the gym with my sleeveless shirt to flaunt my imaginary biceps, Air Jordan mid-calf socks, and neon green shoelaces. I was practicing amongst middle school players who, in my mind, were not even remotely close to matching my basketball skill. I wanted to emphasize this separation of skill and make it obvious as possible to my new assistant coach. After multiple repetitions of me slapping the backboard with two hands, Coach Walker stopped us to say (something which turned out to be one of the most insightful, pieces of wisdom I have ever heard), “you’re not here to prove yourself, but you’re here to improve.”
Coming into the season, I sought to prove myself. I measured my success by my statistics and put my ambition, priorities, and desires above my team’s goals. On top of all this, for the first time in my high school basketball career, I was under a new head coach. Every coach has their own philosophy specific to them, and Coach Davis’ philosophy, was not my philosophy. He, for some odd reason, continually stressed the importance of maintaining your right leg as your only pivot foot. He, for some odd reason, emphasized the significance of establishing a post presence. I hated his philosophy, I hated his methods, I hated his practices, and I hated playing for him.
The very first game of the season, I didn’t play until the second quarter, an act I considered as an insult. I stepped onto the court and stepped right off of it just as quickly as I had gone on because of an “attitude problem.” This was the year that was supposed to be a whole theatric show of my athleticism, and I score 0 points in the first three games? This was supposed to be the basketball season where my basketball prowess would reach its maximum height and score 20 points per game, and I get more minutes on JV than on Varsity? My attitude hindered me from contributing to my team’s success. My attitude grew exponentially worse to the point where I would talk back openly to my head coach and refuse to look him in the eye. It finally reached its climax one away game and quitting was not just a consideration, it was something I was going to do. Just as odd as my Coach’s philosophy, I thought I would give it just one more game. That one more game turned out to be the last game I played in about two months. I chip fractured my knee cap in a close JV game in the fourth quarter.
It took all that to get me in the place where I am today. It took all the disrespecting in the world, it took me getting injured and being on the disabled list nearly all season, it took me insulting my coaching staff who invest so much time in my life. It took all that to make me realize that my teammates are more important than anything I have to offer. I didn’t realize that this season wasn’t for how I can fulfill my personal goals, but rather for how I can help the team push for a collective district league championship. I played to prove, not to improve. When injured, I spent a lot of time contemplating my role. Obviously, the star player I dreamt of being could not be my role. I came to the realization, after numerous practices and games spent on the sideline that my purpose was to encourage and lift up my teammates. My first practice back, the team was split up into different groups where each member of the group would share what their goal for the rest of practice was. Time came around and it was my turn to speak, I said to “challenge the starting guards.” I went from trying to be the best in the county to being a person with limited minutes challenging our key guard players in practice. I ended up playing entire JV games which were a blast and did not hurt my ego one bit. Practices and games, both JV and Varsity, became more enjoyable, more fulfilling when I had a “team-first” mentality. I actually applied the fundamentals that were consistently drilled in practice and they have in fact made me a notably better player.
Overall, this season was truly ironic in all regards. God taught me a great lesson of humility, respect, and encouragement that I will continue to use as a moral code for basketball seasons to come. The principles of life God disciplined me in this year came through the expense of my pride and my head Coach constantly shaking his head at me. I was not expecting a basketball season like the one in 2011-2012. If someone were to tell me that I scored a total of 2 points on varsity, I would have lost my mind. But I am thankful to God for putting me through these various circumstances. I am truly grateful for the three months of what has been the best season of my basketball career, not because of any great thing I have done, but because of what God has done.
Delaware County Christian School
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