Basketball was never too much for me to handle, but due to the stress that I endured my junior year, the sport ended up being a waste of time and energy that particular season. The physicality of basketball was my favorite part of the game. I could throw elbows and dive on the ground, but I was made a ‘practice dummy’ very early in the season. I would spend hours guarding Renni Fultz. She was a fantastic player because she was tough, but I was the only teammate willing to guard her. I battled her for two and a half hours every practice, and I felt the effects for a while after, usually in the form of bruises. Not being physically in shape also contributed to my frustration with the season. While most people would be deterred by the thought of sprints, I believed that we did not have enough conditioning to start the season. When Coach Beery would play me or anyone else, we would tire extremely fast. Playing eight minute quarters completely exhausted was too much for anyone, and it was due to our lack of training. Although there was a lot of pain, it was manageable. Combine it with other personally degrading contributors and you have yourself an unmotivated, hostile, and devastated individual.
The most immediately felt result of the mistake junior year was the emotional trauma that I experienced throughout the season. The stress, anxiety, and hate that I expressed came from a variety of sources, and it made me a kind of person that I did not like. I dealt with a feeling of loneliness that was exclusive to that year, and it was because I had lost multiple teammates and family members from the previous season. My freshman and sophomore years I was supported by my teammates, coached by my father, and overshadowed by my older sister. Not only that, but I was playing alongside my cousin. Sophomore year I lost my sister to graduation and my father to work, but I continued to strive to improve my skills. By my junior year, my cousin had graduated, but the hardest reality had struck me: I was alone on the court. I was one of two juniors, and the team that I had been playing with since fifth grade was gone. I was no longer playing for my teammates. They were the only ones who truly knew my role on the team, and the games were not enjoyable after that. My job as a teammate has always been to fuel the team with positive energy. I was loud, and I would always set the mood for the practices and the games. Still, the most frustrating and isolating factor that ultimately halted my further progress in this sport was Coach Beery’s unwillingness and inability to help me as a player. For the most part, he liked to tell you that you were wrong and that you performed terribly, but he never helped you fix it. The rest of the time, he would sit you at the end of the bench and not say anything. According to him, you should automatically know how you faltered. In a sense, he asked you to coach yourself, and it seemed like Beery had given up on me. I think the most stressful part of the season was showing up to practice with pent-up rage and then having to support the team with a positive attitude when in reality I wanted to scream and tell Coach Beery off. How many times did I have to cry on the car ride home before I decided I did not want to do it anymore? Basketball my junior year was all about my stored emotions, and it is incredibly hard for someone to function when they have to pretend everyday for the betterment of the team.