I've been playing basketball since I was in third grade, and I was the typical scared-of-the-ball girl. At the time, there happened to be a church league for girls first-third grade going on. I would get to play games with others girls who signed up. I got a specific team and t-shirt jersey, and I thought that was so cool. My parents probably would have said I was good, but I was not. I might've done okay, but I was very timid.
I didn't have a lot of experience level and confidence, because I wasn't in any extra leagues. In fact, when I returned to do the fourth-sixth grade level, my mind was blown on how many basketball leagues there really were. AAU and numerous others with the town...
At the time, I didn't really know what they were, other than another basketball team. I never got to play on one, because my parents didn't want me running over the state at that age. I didn't think they wanted me to run around the state, period, until I played school ball.
So I played in fourth grade, and I got better. Still timid, though. Those leagues never bothered me, I guess, because they were simply not an option.
Until fifth grade.
It was practically impossible not to notice them then, especially since they were becoming more and more of a thing. This post might come out very controversial, but just remember this is my opinion. I am in no way trying to offend people associated with these teams.
Anyways. Those leagues... Well, the more I heard about them, the more irritated I became. In the summer of fourth grade, I attended a week long basketball "camp". I just showed up for a few hours and practiced. Some of the girls there were on AAU teams and all knew one another. I was kind of a loner, to be honest.
I was just the girl who none of the coaches knew. The average player who needed her confidence boosted. The girl who was not able to play for AAU. I learned a few good things at camp, but if I'm honest, it just hurt my feelings. I was always excluded when we scrimmaged. I never got to shine, even if I wasn't the best, and everyone needs that. I began to realize that the girls on AAU had more experience, more confidence, and more attention. The sad truth in our world today is, unless you are involved in all those leagues, how well you play is basically dismissed. This isn't true all the time, but it definitely was for me - and I hated that. So what did I do? I let the anger I had get the best of me. I became bitter at those leagues.
Some of those reasons why I was bitter still make sense. Girls do use those titles to make themselves look cooler. Not all, but quite a few. The schedules can be absolutely insane, and we really need to ask ourselves: Is it worth it? I'm not trying to be a dream killer, but only a few of those girls will make it big. If it's God's plan, who cares what leagues you're on? He will see you through.
Also, these leagues are rubbing girls a wrong way, I think. I see all these "ball is life" and "basketball never stops" quotes. If it's your passion, that's great! Do it and kick butt, but nothing should ever be your life except God. Writing is NOT my life. Blogging is NOT my life. Basketball is NOT my life. Do I love all these things very much? Heck yes. But really, they're all temporary. They don't mean anything once I die. Basketball does stop. More so than writing, because I doubt I can be 60 years old fast breaking... At least, without dying.
That's where those leagues can be good. They can offer opportunities to play while you can. They can teach you a lot about life - I'm realizing that now, and I'm not as bitter. There are still a few girls who irritate me insanely with their little leagues, but you know? I'm learning to get beyond that too. One day they will have a rude awakening. They can hate me now for saying this, but it's true. It's their life, let them live it.
Back to the story, though. This year was a very different season for me. It would be my last year I was eligible to play on the church league. My dad played a big part in this year's season, he actually volunteered to be my coach's assistant helper or something...and that was a lot of fun. Then one night as I showed up for practice, my coach mentioned to my dad a new mini traveling league she was forming. It was mainly a fifth grade team, but she would make an exception for me. We would practice at our town's local gym, and then we'd have two games each Saturday in Baxter. It was a flexible schedule, I'd learn the original way to play basketball (since the church league changed it up to work better), and would give me more experience before I had to play school ball.
My parents talked it over, and they agreed to let me do it. This league did not get started on the right foot with me. For one, it was exhausting. I had to learn a bunch of new things. Our talent levels were pretty comparable. But this season, I have learned one huge thing: through hard work, and sometimes not fun times, comes the great things in life. This league upset me sometimes. I wasn't easy on myself - at all. I learned a lot about faith and basketball. I learned not to feel so worthless about myself and this sport. I learned to stop comparing myself with other, "better" girls. Most of all, I learned this is a sport I want to play my heart out with. I know I will never play professionally, and that's not my goal. My goal is to play while I can, because I know basketball does stop. I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.
This season, I think - hope - I improved tons. I know I was more aggressive and hardly timid at all. I have a lot to learn still, but I've learned not to be so afraid either. Basketball is a lot like my book. I've been holding back, and I regret that. I'm not that kind of girl. If there's an opportunity, I grab it.
The games we played in Baxter were definitely not easy. They took perseverance, lots of it. One time we lost, but we played the best ever. I'm learning that's okay. I'm learning to move forward from my mistakes, like guarding a girl and trying to steal the ball when we're supposed to get back... *I'd rather not talk about it*
I'm learning that if you lose a scrimmage to a fourth grade AAU team when it was just a bad day for my team, doesn't mean I suck. It doesn't make them better than us, just because they've worked and trained together longer.
I could be stressed about next year, that I'll be under looked since the girls played together and worked together much longer than I have - but I'm not going to.
I'm a good basketball player, and I'm not going to let anyone take that away from me...
It was an amazing season, because I learned and grew in more ways possible than I thought. It was amazing because of this team...
This summer we've been considering a league. I'll update you all on some of those things soon, but I hope this post helps you to know that just because something is rough doesn't mean you have to be so hard on yourself. Look for what God intends you to learn. Through the bad comes the good. Through the rain comes the rainbow.