Dear 17-year-old Jamie,
What a journey it’s been with your first love, basketball, playing since the age of four. Being 5’3″ and Japanese American proved to set some major hurdles once you realized you wanted to play in college. But I’m proud of you for never giving up and never giving in to others who said, “You’re too small. You’re not good enough. You’ll never play Division 1 College Basketball.” The derogatory comments about your ethnicity were harsh as well, but in the end, it only made you tougher and prouder of who you are and where you’ve come from.
You spent endless hours in the gym working on your game. When it came time to practice, you were always the first to arrive and last to leave. Then, you’d head over to practice with the boy’s Varsity team for the extra time. So when that final buzzer went off, and you had zero offers from colleges, I know how badly your heart ached. But, because you believed in yourself and understood that success is when preparation meets opportunity, you pressed on.
A couple of months later that chance would come at a last-minute exposure camp. Coaches from the University of Southern California were there and were looking for a point guard. They’ll offer you a full scholarship that will change your life!
There will be many lessons to learn in college, but the biggest ones I want you to know now are the following:
- It will not be an easy road. There will be coaching changes that cause you to lose all of your confidence. You’ll start playing for others instead of yourself, afraid to make mistakes. But when this happens, remember why you love this game and why you play; for fun.
- There will always be more talented players. You must be prepared because you never know what will happen. Heading into your senior year, you’ll be competing for playing time with two of the best point guards in the nation. Even if you think you’ll only get to play for two minutes, work your butt off to contribute your best in those two minutes. It’s unfortunate for them, but those two players will both suffer injuries that will sit them out the entire season, making you the only point guard on scholarship and having to play all 40 minutes. You’ll be thankful you were prepared for that moment.
- And maybe the most important. When all is said and done, no one will remember what your record was, how many points you scored, or how many games you won. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel. So be kind to EVERYONE: Teammates, coaches, university staff, janitors, the chefs of the eating halls. These are the people and relationships that will last far longer than your playing career.
When all is said and done, no one will remember what your record was, how many points you scored, or how many games you won. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel…These are the people and relationships that will last far longer than your playing career.
You don’t know it yet, but although basketball has been the heart and soul of your entire life, it does not define you. It will lead you to a career path that you become incredibly passionate about, helping others by opening a CrossFit gym and building a community that loves and supports one another while improving their health and fitness. Eventually, the day will come when you have to hang up those shoes but do it until it stops being fun. And always remember, when one door shuts, another one will open.