This week’s observation assignment had me going to a place that I was very familiar with – the gym. In my head, the gym always meant the basketball court, and basketball has been something that has “defined” me for the last 15 years of my life – until this past spring. I was recruiting to play varsity basketball at Emory and ultimately it was one of the main reasons why I came to this school. Basketball was my life and had been my life for an extremely long time, it was the first thing I went to when people asked me to “describe myself” and it was the one thing that had always remained constant in my life. But after my sophomore year season I decided to leave the team. I started to find myself dreading going to practice or even games – which were supposed to be fun. I started to find myself becoming more and more miserable, few and far fetched were the days when I had a genuine smile on my face. Mostly, I was filled with this constant anxious/nervous energy, worrying about practice. The environment was an incredibly negative one, it was one where I never thought I was good enough and I was frequently reminded of that. “Don’t shoot, just pass” “Make sure you’re getting rebounds we need you in there for defense but don’t try to make moves you know you cant do” “Look at your stat line, all I see are zeros.” The negativity invaded my body and took over my thoughts and my feelings. The sport that I once loved became something that I resented, and that was never something I thought I’d ever say.
That being said, this assignment took me back to a place that I hadn’t been to since last spring, and while many negative emotions came crawling back, I also realized that I had some sense of relief as well. The sport of basketball is something that I’ll always love and it’s unfortunate that my career had to end the way that it did, but the freedom to be happy and smiling on an everyday basis makes the decision so much easier to handle and makes it all worth it.