I’ve played for SA Finest for almost 2 years now. Joining this team has been one of the best things I could of done after undergoing a major back surgery to correct my scoliosis. After 6 months of rehabilitation from surgery, I joined my first AAU team with Coach Ray. I have progressed over time of training and playing on Coach Ray’s team. At my first tournament in Devine, I was seen by other AAU coaches as a clumsy, very raw, long and skinny girl who “couldn’t-catch-the-ball-to-save-her-life”. But Coach Ray saw something else, potentional. As I grew and expanded my game, those same coaches asked “that’s the same girl from Devine that couldn’t catch the ball?”
Over time, I realized I play basketball because I enjoy it and have a desire to win but have no shame in losing when I know I played my heart out for my coach, my teammates, and especially the occasional college coaches sitting on our baseline. Playing for SA Finest is defiantly not a walk in the park at all. It takes talent and effort and more than anything, heart. We constantly speak about pride in our huddles, either at half time or at the end of a hard fought game. It’s not about “the team was bigger, stronger, faster, and older” than us, because that constantly the case in most of our tournaments, it’s about “did we play with heart? Did we leave it all on the floor? Did we look like a basketball team out there?” Frequent questions that go through my head after a game, followed by, “man, I can’t believe I missed that lay up.” And, “those refs were absolutely horrible.” Any basketball players mind would ask themselves these same questions and think about every aspect of their game and their team’s game. I know I can go home happy if I know I gave everything I could and I helped my team give everything they could.
I know that, even when I’m in pain, I hate coming out of the game. Even when I can’t breathe, I don’t want to come out. I’m not thinking about, “my legs feel like they’re about to collapse underneath me” or “my lungs feel like a vacuum is sucking all the air out me”, I’m thinking about a million other things. Like my coach said, we are computers. All these different thoughts are going through our head at once in less than 3 seconds. “Keep your dribble until your going to shoot or pass it. Would this crazy man I call coach stop shouting at me?! I need to call a play but I can attack her high foot…” All spinning around your head at once plus your tired and sweating and there’s college coaches sitting right behind the basket and teammates on the bench and parents in the bleachers, waiting for you to do something. So the last thing you need to think about is pain. You can think about how much pain you’re in after the game
Joining this level of basketball has also gave me amazing opportunities such as playing against better competition, meeting girls basketball icons in San Antonio, and of coarse the ultimate opportunity, playing in front of college coaches. It is a dream of many young basketball players to play in college and to see the coaches sitting there watching you is an amazing yet nerve-wrecking feeling. You want to impress the coaches but that’s a lot of pressure to do well. I just try not to see them there watching, but how can you not recognize them? They can give you a way into college and a good education just by being good at what you love to do.
I’ve learned, it’s easy to just stop, and a challenge to keep going. Though bumps and bruises and even back injuries, we all push each other to do better. We hate to see each other give up and not finish. I know I get furious when I see someone just stop trying. How do you get better if you never push yourself? Some people look at our team and think small and unathlectic, but they also see disciplined and determined. We all take each other accountable for our actions and we love each other through thick and thin, no matter what. And I love that about our team. At practices, we can be best friends off the court and when we get on the court we act like were the worst enemies. We go at each other because we want to all see each other get letters. I want to see them get letters and they want to see me get letters.
The thing I think most of the incoming freshmen on Finest are looking forward to getting to play on Team Xpress with Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil as a coach. I know I can’t wait to play with Team Xpress. Looking at all the players now that play for Xpress, it makes you want to be out there on the court playing. You want to be just like the girls on the team and get the chance to play with them. Playing for Team Xpress will be a chance to get even more opportunities to get looked at my colleges. I know this by going to their games and seeing every chair on the baseline with college coaches watching. I can’t wait to be out there playing in front of them.