Sometimes I jot things down in my phone notebook to expound upon or it's a thought I shared with someone and wanted to share publicly as well. Phone files will always be thoughts from on the go. Now after that disclaimer, here we go!
And if I am to move forward, how am I equipped? I've been conditioned to be disciplined, courageous, strategic, and poised. I've been up against the odds and knocked them down. I'm a well oiled machine, but who am I? You told me not to feel because it shows weakness. Suck it up and move on with your life because the next play is about to happen. Ball is life after all, so give your everything to the game. Never mind that I spend more time off the court than I do on. That will work itself out they said. Right now, focus on this orange rock. It's my ticket out they said.
Don't worry about school or learning, we will make sure you're eligible. Make good grades so you can get a scholarship, not so you can learn and build your mind. Oh! You're a college student athlete now, emphasis on the athlete.
Make these plays and build this school brand. Got it! I still don't know who I am though coach? I don't know what I like other than this game. I've forgotten the days when I dreamed of making the world a better place with my words. I've forgotten the days when I took apart and rebuilt the vacuum cleaner. I've forgotten the days when I negotiated my way to a later bedtime. I've forgotten the days when I used my mind and imagination. My focus is ball now. Do or die.
"Got it! I still don't know who I am though coach?"
I was sitting on the deck when I thought of this imaginary inner monologue. It's a mashup of several conversations I've had over the years with past teammates, other athletes, and myself. Sports is a form of entertainment and I get that. It's a business. However, there are real lives at stake here. Some youth think that sports is THE thing that makes them worthy. Valuable. Special. When the sport is no longer their main thing they are left feeling despondent and searching for something else to validate them. That's why it's imperative to impress upon them that they are valuable, they are worthy, and they special because they exist. When their value is tied to their who they are as a human being, the motivation to grow and develop doesn't end when they put the ball down. They take it as what it is and move on because they know their potential is greater than any sport. Pro level or lower.
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Shannon M. Carlisle