I attended my first basketball game when I was just months old. Dad and Mom had Umass Men’s Basketball season tickets and we went to just about every home game at Amherst College (for both the men and women’s teams). I started playing competitively when I was nine and I couldn’t wait to hit 3rd grade to be old enough to play in the Wednesday afterschool basketball program.
Once I hit middle school, I thought I was MJ at the age of thirteen and so I tried out for the varsity highschool basketball team every year until I made it. It took me two years. I played for four years on the varsity team and made captain my senior year. When I started looking at colleges, I knew it needed to be somewhere where I could play ball. I went to showcases to be seen by college coaches, sent out tapes and as a result I was recruited by a few small D3 schools.
Went to college, played four years and my senior year I became captain. The course load seemed heavy, as I was a two sport athlete (basketball and softball, captain of both), so it took me five years to finish school. Like father, like daughter! I became the assistant basketball coach my fifth year while I finished up classes.
Basketball has shaped me, in every aspect of life. As much as I’ve given to the game, much has been given back and more. I’m a curvy 5’7 (5’8 in the books), at a solid 150lbs. I never had the physical gifts you might think a ball player needs, it just meant I had to work harder. The WNBA wasn’t in my future and I sure as hell wasn’t about to get run over by 5’11 muscular girls. I stood my ground and made my presence felt, I was scrappy and strong and I spent long hours in the weight room.
I had to prepare harder, I needed to make more sacrifices, but I chose to be dedicated to the game. It was my first love. My thunder thighs made it harder to do suicides but I sure could box out! Even though I have always been curvy, living a healthy lifestyle and being fit is and always will be a priority in my life (former athlete or not). I didn’t let it deter me from playing sports.
Luckily, I never gained the freshman fifteen, but boy, I can’t bounce back like I used to! Fast forward to my thirties, (yes y’all, I’m thirty-two) I realized that the life lessons I learned from my basketball career are being utilized everyday in order to maintain my healthy body.
We’ve got one life and one body. I want to live for as long as I possibly can and that means taking care of my body. Mom always says “control the controllables,” and that’s exactly what I will do.
We’ve got to enjoy the biggest game of all; life.
1. Overcome Adversity
I developed a mentality to overcome obstacles. I didn’t make the HS varsity squad after trying out for two years in a row. My college coach tried to make me quit and I started looking to transfer to a school where I’d get more playing time. (Sidenote: I stuck it out and went on to have a great relationship with him and became his assistant coach years later). I would sprain an ankle almost every season that would put me out a few games but I refused to let those things stop me, they just made me stronger.
Fast forward, after becoming a freelancer I had to end my gym membership because it wasn’t a part of my new, very limited budget. I couldn’t afford it so I took it upon myself to find some really great workout videos (check out my YouTube playlist here) and came up with a running and plyo plan to do on my own.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan
There is nothing that I need to get a workout in, except myself. Now, I set goals and try to beat my own records. I was diagnosed with celiac disease after correlating my severe stomach pains with long distance runs. I didn’t let that stop me. Now I manage my runs and incorporate body weight workouts in the middle to alleviate any stomach pain. Give up? Ha, yeah right.
2. Discipline & Patience
I needed to do work to make the varsity squad in HS. I needed to do work to get more playing time in college. So I disciplined myself and worked on my game. I learned how to turn my goals into accomplishments but success never came overnight. Nothing was ever handed to me and as a result of working hard I overcame. Fast forward, my goal was to workout more on my own and to get back into shape, and that is exactly what I’m doing. The hardest thing to do is get into shape, the easiest thing to do is fall out of it. Excuses don’t work.
3. Trust Yourself
I wouldn’t have been able to play college ball without believing in myself and my abilities but I trusted myself that I could prepare properly and I knew I was coachable. Fast forward, I know my skill set and I trust them. I prepared to run a ten mile race, something I’ve never done before. I’m not a runner, I’m a ball player. So I planned as well as I could have, but I trusted myself that, even if it’s the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life, I know I’d get through it. This girl had her own back, and I cried when I finished because it felt so good to know that I trusted myself enough to do it and get through it.
4. Successes & Failures
There were certainly highs and lows, wins and losses. Defeats, long losing seasons and upsets you wouldn’t believe. Fast forward, there were a few months where I didn’t workout after I quit my full time job. I was in a daze and was only concerned about finding freelance work and then I remembered there’s this thing in basketball we call short term memory. We don’t worry about the past, we focus on the future.
“You messed up. So what! What’s the next play?”
I’m not thinking about those few months I didn’t workout. I’m giving it everything I’ve got now and all I can do is improve myself. If I miss a day or two (or three or heck, a week!), I won’t allow it to spiral. I don’t sit and pout about it because that will just cause more days of not working out. I allow myself second chances after I embrace it, hold myself accountable and learn from it. Then keep it moving…
I’ve always been passionate about playing which made devoting myself to game, easy. Fast forward, I’m passionate about a few specific things in life and I learned that if I wanted to do it, that I could do it. I’ve always been passionate about being healthy. If I want to be fit and healthy, I can and I do. I live it. I take advantage of every opportunity. We have one life, one body. The ball is in my hands, the ball is in my court. Since I’m in control of what the next sixty years are going to look like, I will not be one of those old ladies who can’t move because she didn’t take care of her body.
6. Time Management
Being a two sport collegiate athlete with a ridiculously heavy art class schedule was extremely demanding. We had five hour studio classes versus the the majority of the student bodies 45 minute lectures, so it was imperative to manage my time. Time for homework, time to study, time for my projects piled on top of practice and games. Mind you I was in season all year round, Spring softball, Winter basketball, Fall softball. Fast forward, I make time to get my workouts in, no matter what. It’s part of my daily schedule and it’s a part of my lifestyle. Self-improvement through training is extremely important.
A day or two may go by where I’m on set from sun up to sundown, but the first moment I can breathe, I’m outside doing a plyo workout or at the very least throwing on two, ten minute ab workouts if my time is limited. Everyone has thirty minutes in their day to get something done.
7. Sacrifice & Commitment
In order to be a college athlete, there were tons of things I knew I was willingly giving up. I didn’t drink for the first three years of college. Maybe I was a nerd, but sports and school were more important to me than anything (see #5) because I loved basketball and wanted to do well in school. Coming home from away games, I didn’t sit in the back of the bus drinking with my teammates.
Fast forward, do you know how many times I’ve declined plans with friends just so I can get a workout in? Hot summer days of hanging/drinking turned down as a result of what was on the agenda later that evening, a workout. There are somethings in my life that just take priority. Friends are important and so it quality time, but more than anything my body and my health come first. Then there are the food sacrifices. Fries or salad? These are serious sacrifices people!!!!!!!
Want to know more on how I stay healthy? Read some of my tips here.