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Challenge

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I walked into the gym. I approached the posted list of names. My finger was going straight down the list as I look for that one name- the only one that mattered to me at the time- my own. It is not there. I walk away, not showing any emotion, trying to hide the fact that my name was not listed- hide the fact that I actually cared. Well, I did, and the people who saw the tears rolling down my face as I walked out the door with my mom knew that I cared. I had just been cut on the last day of tryouts for my competitive basketball team when I was eleven years old. It was at this point when I received the most valuable advice I have ever been given. As I called an old coach, he told me this. “Don’t let this bring you down. If you want something, if you really want it, don’t quit on it. Don’t ever let anybody make you feel like you don’t deserve something you want. It’s one thing to not make it, but by quitting, you’re telling them that they’re right—you don’t deserve it. That’s not something you want them to feel like. They’re not right, they’re never right when they’re telling you that you can’t do something you want to do. Challenge the people that tell you this by challenging yourself. Trust me you’ll regret every minute of quitting something you love.” He was speaking from experience and I knew it, not only because he has told me about it, but the way his voice sounded when he was speaking to me. He was serious—and I listened.

I hear those words like ringing in my ears every time I step on the hardwood. Every time I feel like I cannot take whatever strenuous exercise we happen to be doing I replay those words in my mind. Is it hard? Of course it is hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. Even with those words, sometimes I feel like I am not good enough. Sometimes I feel like I am not worthy of the team who is always there for me. Every day, I remember those six coaches sitting in the room, those six coaches that decided I was not good enough for their superstars. Though it seemed devastating at the time, looking back it was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. It made me not only a stronger player, but a stronger person and gave me the main source of motivation that I still have today- proving people wrong. Because of this incidence, I love when people tell me or make me feel like I cannot do something because it makes me work that much harder to prove them wrong. A couple of years ago, a coach chose me to go to their national tournament. While there, I was summoned to the coach’s room for a personal meeting. My first thoughts were, “What did I do wrong already, I just met you two days ago.” I looked him in the eyes as he told me that I would never play basketball in college. He told me I was good but just not good enough. I heard but I did not listen. I walked up to him and shook his hand, and as he looked at me as if I was crazy, I smiled and asked what was wrong. He questioned me, “You do realize that wasn’t a compliment? I just told you the truth about your game.” I laughed and said to this man who obviously knew nothing about me, “Oh, that’s funny, that was the truth? I thought it was a challenge.” The next game I hit the game-winning shot that put us at first place in the first part of the tournament. He never knew that in a few years I would get many scholarship offers for basketball- all he knew is that in his mind it would never happen.

As I enter my senior year as a captain of the varsity girl’s basketball team at school, I have many duties that I have been made aware of by our coaching staff. My coaches, among other things, want me and the other captains to work with the freshmen players at the beginning of the year to help them get used to the intensity and seriousness of the high school game. Well, that is what I am trying to do, and while we were warming up, I noticed one of the freshmen doing one of the exercises wrong. It is not unusual, we all messed up when we were freshmen players. So, when coach called a water break, I took her to the side to show her how to do the exercise correctly and helped her get the footwork right. I came back to her after practice and asked her if she was going to work on it for me, and her response was, “I’m not coming back.” With an utterly confused look on my face I asked her what she meant. She said, “I’m not going to make the team anyway, what’s the point?” As I sat beside her I told her to listen as I spoke the words spoken to me years ago as exact as he said them. “If you want something, if you really want it, don’t quit on it. Don’t ever let anybody make you feel like you don’t deserve something you want. It’s one thing to not make it, but by quitting, you’re telling them that they’re right—you don’t deserve it. That’s not something you want them to feel like. They’re not right, they’re never right when they’re telling you that you can’t do something you want to do. Challenge the people that tell you this by challenging yourself. Trust me you’ll regret every minute of quitting something you love.”





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