Playing sports has been a monumental part of my life so far, and some of my fondest memories have come from being on a basketball court. The friendships I formed among teammates are bonds that are stronger than some other friendships. I depend on them more and have a feeling of safety, belonging, and oneness that is irreplaceable.

Take it from me, when your last season is over, it is undoubtably heartbreaking.

As the final seconds countdown and the buzzer sounds to mark the end of your last game, your heart will break. As you walk off the court and to the locker room, with sweat and tears pouring down your face, you await one last post-game talk with your team. Those sweaty huddles of victory or frustration are the special moments you will miss the most.

The tears continue to fall as you take your jersey off for the last time and imagine who might wear it next. No one ever told me about these feelings. No one ever told me what it felt like to grasp the fact that you will never step foot on a court in the kind of way again.

So, I encourage you to take advantage of your last season.

The only thing that seemed to ease my pain was hearing my coach and teammates tell me that I made a difference for them. Not just as a basketball player, but as a leader and a friend, I was able to make a different for them, and that meant more to me than any victory.

So, for those of you going through your last season, do not waste it. You may not realize it now, but there will be a sports-shaped hole in your heart the second that last game ends.

Play with all your heart, love and appreciate your team and coaches, hold on to every second and every memory, and give it your all so you can leave a great legacy behind for those that come after you.