To The High School Athlete Wearing My Old Jersey

To The High School Athlete Wearing My Old Jersey

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Some of us were destined to become athletes. For me, my athletic fate was declared in the home video of my mother in labor. My father was hoping I was a boy so I could follow in his footsteps and become a “football star,” but my mother knocked some sense into him, reminding him that they might have a girl. He then laughed and said, “Then our little girl will be a star.”

Low and behold, here I am. Luckily for my dad, I instantly fell in love with sports. I always had a ball in my hand, and it's safe to say that I was dribbling a ball before I could actually walk. I’ve loved sports for as long as I could remember.

Once I was at an eligible age, I signed up for every sport I wanted to play. Each year, I was able to love my sports more and more, but notably fell completely in love with basketball. Once my potential and talent were obvious, my parents then allowed me to try out for out-of-town teams. Soon enough I was spending my summers playing in time-consuming leagues, driving state to state. By middle school, I was playing for some of the best AAU teams in New Jersey, with girls from all over who soon became my other family.

By this point in my athletic career, I also had a consistent number: 23. There was no particular reason, other than being influenced by Michael Jordan, but it just happened and it stuck. Although it might sound silly, one of my biggest concerns upon entering high school was not having my number. Thankfully, everything happens for a reason and I was able to. It was claimed and mine for my entire high school career.

Every season leading up to your senior year, you’re always told how quickly your four years will go. You're told to embrace your years playing the sport you love. Then slowly and without any realization, those glory days come to an epic end. Now all those teams, recognition, titles, and championships are something I can never get back. Although I was given the opportunity to pursue my athletics in college, nothing will beat high school sports and wearing the number I was known for having. It didn't really hit me until my senior night and during states.

I’m now the one sitting in the stands, watching games with the other alum, and it’s unbelievably uncomfortable because I'm dying to get out there. I wish I was on that court in my number. Now, as I sit here reflecting on all my years, I just need to tell you something about that very number they call before introducing your name.

As you play my game, in my jersey, on what was once my court, I want you to think about all of those before and after you. Always remember those little girls just now learning to play the game that we have both grown to love. Remember the little girl in you and that first significant basket you made.

There’s a lot of history in that very jersey you are wearing today. It represents your successes and your losses, just like it represents mine. I made shots and missed shots. I had steals and rebounds, just as I've had the ball deflected and stolen from me. There were times when I was anxious. There were times when I was nervous. There were times when I was indescribably angry in that jersey, to the point where it felt like my blood was boiling.

But there was nothing like the smile captured on camera when I stepped on the court during my first varsity game. I’ve had some of my happiest moments in that jersey along with some of my saddest-- like when I cried like an actual baby when I walked off the court after my very last home game.

That jersey isn’t just a jersey--it’s a legacy, and every legacy has its own story. It will never die. As I watch from the stands three years later, watching the very same plays I used to breathe and sleep that you are now executing, you should know that I am expecting a lot from you. I want nothing more than for you to play better than what you think is your best, because even I didn't do our number the justice it deserves.

Don’t take it for granted like I did. Don’t you dare complain about the endless amount of sprints you have to run during preseason like I did with my girls. If I could, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’ll take the sore muscles and elbows to the face. I’ll take back all the ugly bruises that covered almost every part of my body. I’d pretty much do anything to wear that jersey one last time and to see my family, who were my number one fans and supporters, cheering me on in the stands.

Own that jersey. Own that number. Do so with pride. Like myself, it will be the hardest goodbye you’ll make when leaving high school.


Cover Image Credit: Buzzfeed

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Till's Return: The Gorilla Is Back

Liverpool's Darren Till Is Ready To Take Out Everyone

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The #3 ranked fighter in the welterweight division former title challenger Darren Till has recently expressed that he is ready to get into the octagon multiple times this year as he aims to get that top spot in the division. He has said since UFC 228 with the bout between himself and the current UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley he has essentially reassessed the situation. He is ready to capitalize on the lessons he has learned while showing why he is still the biggest challenger in the 170-pound division.

He has called out all names but he has not hesitated to express his interest in getting that rematch with the champion "The Chosen One" Tyron Woodley because he knows and is confident he has the skill to defeat Tyron. The Gorilla is definitely ready to be the Main Event on the London card in March but there is no clear set opponent yet.

Rumors began to spread in the mix martial arts world that Darren Till would be facing Colby Covington but it was not set in stone. Darren would have much more to win if he took on Colby and dismantled him. He would resolidify himself as the #1 Title challenger as Colby would have a lot more to lose. Colby Covington does not seem to be on the best of terms with the UFC as is so it seems like this would be the most appropriate fight to make since Kamaru Usman vs Tyron Woodley was booked for UFC 235 for the belt.

Darren Till is absolutely ready to get back into action but many would like to see him step into the Middleweight division and show what he can do. He does not want any rest and wants to fight 3 times or more in 2019 as it looks to be a promising year. The Gorilla recently received a call out for the London card by #9 ranked welterweight Jorge Masvidal as they both share the same amount of interest in the past but the fight was never booked.

Another huge fight he has interest in is with the "Style Bender" from the middleweight division, top prospect Israel Adesanya which would be absolute madness and would be a huge sell for the business. But in the meantime, he does believe he will stay at welterweight even though the division is in a very weird place right now. He expressed his dislike for Colby but knows the game Colby Covington is trying to play. A fight between Darren Till and the (Former?) Interim Title holder Colby Covington would definitely put a clear understanding to who the next title challenger could be in the division for Tyron Woodley.

The 26-year-old has 17 wins and 1 loss with 1 draw in his mix martial arts career. The last time we saw the #3 ranked "Gorilla" Darren Till was when he took on Tyron Woodley who become the first person to finish and stop Darren giving him his first loss at UFC 228. It is very exciting to see Darren so hungry and eager to get back in the cage. Hopefully, it will be in the Main Event in London.

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