“What’s another word that’s synonymous with life?”

My teammates either groan or laugh, shaking their heads as they reciprocate the humor funneled through one of my favorite questions.

“Sierra, stop it.”

“Nah, but c’mon life is equal to...what?”

“Ball.”

I ask myself this question just about day. "Ball is life" is not only my favorite hash tag, but also a motto...or in my eyes, a way of living. When I think about my path as a college athlete, my mind cannot help but travel to my childhood experiences. And I am just a girl on a Friday night, encapsulated in a world of youthful eagerness and about to enter into another that would change my life forever.

A flood of sensory details rush back into my consciousness. My mother is in the kitchen heating Campbell’s tomato soup on the stove, a batch of homemade grilled cheese is responsible for the delicious scent that is wafting into the living room. My brother is setting up the dinner trays as the winter air seeps through the windows. I am sitting on the edge of the couch, the television remote within my grasp, as I flip to the Madison Square Garden channel and focus on the screen where the Knicks will soon be playing—my eyes soak up every movement and every word.

“It’s about to start, hurry up!”

Ready, set, game time, and I can feel the excitement that wiggled through my body so many times. The rhythm of the tune that played during the game and for commercial breaks, the warm voice of Wilt Chamberlain narrating in the background, and the continuous squeak of sneakers as the players run down the court were all a part of my routine and by extension, a part of me.

But each time I blink, change happens. No more Stephon Marbury. Or Jamal Crawford. David Lee. Channing Frye. Tyson Chandler. Amar’e Stoudemire. Landry Fields.

As the years keep go and come, I find comfort in the motto that has always lingered.