To the little girl picking up a basketball for the first time,

Welcome to the world of basketball. This game you’re about to play has the ability to change your life and take you places nothing else can, but you’re in control of that. After playing 14 seasons of basketball, and with one remaining, I have experienced all that this game has to offer. I have lived through the high points and the joys and made it through the lows too.

The smell of the gym will become your favorite scent and the sound of sneakers squeaking will become music to your ears. You will learn trust, passion, hard work, teamwork, and so much more from this game, but only if you allow yourself to. You will make the most memorable friendships with the girls who wear the same team name as you on their jersey. They will be the ones there to help you up from the charge you just took or be there to brush you off when you don’t have your best game.

This game will bring you consistency. Later in life, when things seem like they’re not going the way you want, a basketball and a hoop will be all you need to clear your mind and bring yourself together.

The game of basketball will test you and push you in ways that you did not know were possible. You will have a coach or two who know how to get under your skin and who will push you to your breaking point but don’t break. Remember the feelings of joy the sport has given you and let them overpower the feeling of doubt you may have. Don’t ever give up.

When you don’t make the team you want or when you're frustrated by the way a season is going, don’t let it discourage you from pushing through. If it hasn’t happened yet I guarantee you that at one pint it will, don’t let it define you. Push through it because it will only make you a better player and person.

You will have coaches that are your biggest advocates and coaches that you feel hate you. Don’t let them change the person and player that you are. Keep your head high and play the game that you know how to play. Listen to their critiques and seek their help, but don’t let their negative comments towards you and your game cause you to hang up your jersey.

When people say, "You're good, for a girl!" look them in the eyes, smile, and tell them that being a girl has nothing to do with your basketball skills. When you tell others that you are going to play in college they will smile and tell you that probably won't happen just say, "Watch me."

On Friday nights when others are going out and Saturday mornings when others are sleeping in you will be in the gym pushing yourself to be the best you can be. Keep at it. Those are the times that will put you on the path to where you want to go. You will want to give up at times and you will be tired but remember your goal, remember where you want to go.

Appreciate every time you step onto that court because you never know when your last opportunity to be there will come. Whether injury, illness or just the end of your playing time coming, eventually we all have to end. When that time does come remember the smells, the music to your ears, the friendships, and most importantly the lessons the game has taught you.

The number one thing to never lose sight of through the years is why you picked up the basketball in the first place.