When we first met, you were all very familiar with each other but I was the new girl. You never cared about that, you all treated me like I have always been apart of your team because as far as you were concerned, I have been. We quickly bonded and we became a family. I had bad days but I would come to practice and you instantly changed my mood. I came to you guys at a tough part in my athletic career. I was hoping for a new start and that is exactly what you gave me. Before I came to you, I was losing my spark and I blamed myself for everything. I instantly got my spark back and learned that it was never my fault that I lost it in the first place. I’m not here to place blame on my past teams but to thank you all for building me back up. You all believed in me when I didn’t and you all taught me what a team should really be like.
I’ve been on good and bad teams but I don’t regret anytime I spent with any of them. I’ve had great coaches and ones who didn’t really care but they all taught me something along the way. I’ve had many teammates who I love dearly and ones who almost made me quit but we’ve all shared some pretty great memories. They’ve all impacted me in different ways but there was always something different about us. We weren’t just a good team, you weren’t just a coach who made me a better player and you weren’t just teammates I love dearly. You made the rough times so much fun and I wouldn’t want to spend my days with anyone else.
Not only did you help me believe in myself yet again but you reminded me why I dedicated so much of my life to this sport. You gave me a new start and I instantly started playing like I’ve always known I could. I was on the verge of giving up but you all brought me back up. From bad coaches, favoritism, bad attitudes and everything in between, none of that mattered anymore when we stepped out on the court together. When we played together, all my problems would fade and I was just doing what I love.
When I first found out that I have been placed on your team, I was honestly pleasantly surprised because I really thought I was going to be placed on one of the lower teams. I truly had no confidence in myself at the time but obviously the coaching staff saw something in me. For the first time I wasn’t being overlooked, for the first time I wasn’t being put on the back burner. For the first time in awhile I actually believed in myself but most importantly, for the first time in awhile I was loving what I was doing
We were never the dream team. We were all good players but we weren’t the “star of the team.” The thing that was so great about us was that we made each other better when we played together. No, we weren’t that unbeatable team but that was what made us so perfect. Our faults made us a stronger as a whole and even when we had tournaments when we didn’t win a single game, we still fought for every point and celebrated every little thing. As individuals we couldn’t be more different yet as a team we were one.
Since we’ve been playing together I’ve realized something about myself. I realize that I’ve made many mistakes along the way and I also realize that everything that happened was not my fault. I realized that I’ve had some toxic coaches and teammates, even though they almost made quit, I didn’t. Proving them wrong made the victories that much sweeter. Along my roller coaster of an athletic career I’ve learned something that has defined me as an individual: Through the hard times you keep pushing through because you love what you’re doing and when you look back you won’t regret a thing because those rough times only made you want it more.
So thank you for not just being 9 girls I played with for a couple of months and completely forget about. Thank you for being my second family even though our time together is limited. Thank you for not being another coach who would push me to the side but one who made me a better player and individual. Thank you for bringing back the 1 thing that I always loved.