When I was 6 years old, I joined my first sports team. Our team name was the Chiefs. We had mustard yellow, collared jerseys. My uncle was the coach. It was technically soccer but at that age it looks more like a game of follow the leader. When I was 8 years old, I joined my first basketball team. When I was 13 years old, I joined the dance team. When I was 14, I joined the track and field team. When I was 16, I joined the volleyball team. At one point, I was a member of all of those teams in the same calendar year.
I haven’t had evenings or weekends free for almost my entire life. It honestly never crossed my mind to stop playing sports in order to “have a life”. I’m now 27 years old. The idea of being a part of a team is second nature to me.
But stop and think about the concept of team for a second. It’s a group of people. Those people share a common passion. That passion draws them to organize a schedule of times to practice and compete. Those practices are opportunities to improve their skills. Those competitions are opportunities to display the skills they’ve practiced for spectators or to prove to other practicing groups that we are better than you! It’s really a funny concept which is obviously a huge part of human culture and society – all over the world.
However, for me personally – a team has been so much more than that. My coaches have been people who have mentored and developed me into the woman I am today. My practices have been where I learned character qualities like honesty, responsibility, hard work, patience, self-control, humility, and respect. My games have been when, week-after-week and year-after-year all of those characters qualities were put to the test. My teams have been the place where I met the women I consider to be my best friends.
It wasn’t until very recently when I truly appreciated the concept of “team”. There were games, seasons, teammates, coaches and opportunities – I took for granted. There were moments I acted like a total idiot, moments I treated people poorly, moments I lied and cheated and cut corners, and moments I’m not proud of.
I now know and understand how special of a thing a team is. On one hand, I wish I could go back in time to be sure to savor every single moment; and on the other hand, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I love sports – yes! But I love “team” so much more. After 20 years of this madness, some thank yous are in order.
Thank you to my parents for selflessly giving of their time and money and for also being the most supportive parents and my biggest fans. Thank you to my brothers and sisters for pushing me to be better even when you didn’t know you were. Thank you to all the coaches I’ve had throughout the years – sorry I was such a pain in the butt sometimes. Thank you to all my teammates who befriended me and came along side me to work towards common goals. Thank you to all of the supporters – family, friends, fans – who created an amazing atmosphere game-after-game.
But most of all, I thank God for giving me these abilities and opportunities. I truly can’t take the credit. As I look back through my career – every trophy, medal, award, accomplishment, scholarship, and contract has the finger prints of God all over it. It’s humbling to know that I can make my plans but it is He who guides my steps. I have peace “throwing in the towel” knowing that my identity doesn’t lie in my sports. My identity is everlastingly safe in the arms of the all-powerful, never-changing, and always loving God.