My Swedish adventure is over. First stop back to the states was Gainesville, FL to finish up my 4th term of my MBA program through UF. Second stop, home. Third stop coming up, Australia. When I began this basketball journey I gave myself 3 years. I never thought I’d still be playing, but hey, you love what you love. Though it is a love-hate relationship. Throughout it all I’ve had my ups and downs with all my knee operations, natural disasters, mental trials, living alone in a different country, time away from my family, etc. etc. I love being good at this game I love, but in my time chasing… wait I think I can say living this dream by now; my relationship with it has changed in 3 pretty important ways:
- First way it’s changed is my perspective and respect for it. As many of you already have come to realize, as you grow up you learn to value your time with your loved ones more than before. Nowadays I can say I miss my time spent with my family more now than ever. That could also be because I have a few, pretty darn cute, entertaining nephews and a little princess beast of a niece who I feel like I’m missing out on while they grow up. I guess you could say I miss their parents/grandparents too from time to time, but mainly those lil beastlings. Haha jk But seriously, when you’re young, exploring the world, and trying to establish your independence, you place less importance on your time spent with your family. As you get older you realize all the love and valuable time you’re missing out on with every second spend away from them. Priorities change, as you grow. Don’t get me wrong, I do still love basketball, but I do also question when I will give it up to enjoy those little ones before it’s too late and they’re all grown up. Before I look back wishing I was around more.
- Second way it’s changed is my approach towards it is different. My mentality has gone from that stubborn minded, bull headed, play through any/all pain athlete to a more smart-minded, big picture viewing professional. I pay attention to how much I push my body and when it’s telling me I need rest. I’ve had to learn to stand my ground with coaches when they want me to practice or play but my body is telling me no. It’s like pushing a car to drive with no oil. You do more damage than you realize, no matter how badly you want it to work. Your body needs maintenance too. What most people don’t realize is that basketball at this level is a business. Coaches and clubs try to get everything they can out of us. That’s their job as the employer but they will try to squeeze what they can out of you. They paid for a player and they expect to get their money’s worth, but like any piece of machinery, we can break down unexpectedly. We have to learn to walk that fine line between being an athlete wanting to earn our keep, wanting to play, and realizing that our body is our only tool for the career we’ve chosen. Once it’s broken or all used up it’s done. We have to learn that we’re the only ones that are going to take care of our body the way it needs to be taken care of and we have to be smart about it. Learn to rest. Learn to say no. Learn that ball is only life.. until it’s not.
- Lastly and most importantly, I’ve learned where my career belongs on my priority list. I’ve learned to let basketball take a backseat to my relationship with God. I believe I got knocked down a few times these past few years to be able to see if from a different point of view. Maybe I needed to be humbled a bit. Sometimes we go through the motions of our faith and we don’t realize when exactly we placed God in the backseat. Many of us begin to idolize certain things in our life without realizing it. We get so caught up in our jobs, that promotion, school, running around trying to keep our busy lives together all while let Him fall through the cracks. Maybe we start valuing our Saturday nights out on the town drinking more than we do making it to church the next day. Maybe we fall into a spiral of doing those things that make us feel good but aren’t actually good for us. I think that in the beginning of my career, I let my relationship with Him take that back seat. Basketball became my idol for while; it was my dream. It was that think I wanted more than anything. I got a taste of the WNBA, success, accomplishment, money, and I was putting more energy into that dream than I was into my relationship with God. I was showing more love to that basketball/the plans I had for my life, than I was showing to the man who died for my sins. And sometimes He just has to put His hand on us and tell us to sit down. Like Kendrick Lamar says: “Be Humble… Sit Down.” Lol 😉
On my mission trip to the Ivory Coast last summer we spoke about how easy it is as athletes to begin idolizing our sport. Identifying a huge part of ourselves as “athletes” and when reality hits us and we have to hang up that jersey for a different uniform, it hits us hard. We have to begin learning that there’s more to us than just the sport we worked so hard at. We have to learn that our identity as an “athlete” is a much smaller part of who we are than we thought. I’ve learned that basketball isn’t WHO I am, but it is a big part of who I’ve become. Having that ball ripped from me time and time again was God helping me get my priorities straight. He doesn’t want to be 2nd, 3rd, or anything less. He wants to be #1, because unlike my time as an athlete or your time with that job, hobby, other thing you put so much into, He is everlasting.
So what I’ve personally come to realize, is that ball isn’t actually life… even though it’s a big part of it and what I love doing. I mean, it is my career …but at the end of the day, beginning of the day, and throughout the entire day… God is life. Family is Life. And the love that comes along with realizing that, is worth more than anything else in the world. So while I’m still pursuing my dream, my priorities and my perspective has changed dramatically from when I first started. I haven’t been able to get in the zone and come up with a solid blog for a while, but this is just what came to mind as I tried forcing myself to put a little something on paper. My relationship with God and this sport, the reprioritizing of what’s important to me, and the ability to see the bigger picture beyond what’s directly in front of me.
Faith… Family… Basketball… In that order… ❤
Because this is what happens when you’re not around for family vacations…
You get voted off the island and they take cute family photos without you… cool guys…