I believe that it doesn’t matter how big you are, how smart you are, or how athletic you are, you should have the opportunity to try your hand at anything and everything you may be interested in. When I was in the 7th grade, I tried out for my middle school basketball team. I had played basketball for many years, and was even on a successful travel team. At try-outs, I knew all the plays, tried my best, and never gave up hope. I was denied a spot on the team. I was crushed. According to the coach, he was very impressed with my knowledge of the game and my skill level, but he said I just wasn’t big enough. He said he would still like me to be a part of the team, because I knew how to run the plays and could help demonstrate them in practice. He offered me a position as a team manager. I thought about it a lot and talked to my parents about it. They have always supported me and we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of being a team manager. In the end, I did what many athletes wouldn’t do – I decided that I would manage the team. All of my teammates thought that I did the right thing. By doing this, I thought that I could show the coach that he made the wrong decision. I may not have been the biggest player on the team, but no one would play with more heart than me! I did everything that the players did. Even run the sprints when players walked out on practice. We ran until we couldn’t walk anymore. But, I stuck with it just to show that I was more committed than the actual players. After that year, I gave up my basketball career thinking that I couldn’t make any team just because of my height. Instead of just giving up on sports in my life, I continued playing baseball. Since that day, I have been self-conscious about my height. I began to ask myself, “Will I be able to achieve at this certain thing?” I haven’t been able to look at myself the same way ever since that day. My parents have tried to tell me that it is OK, but I know deep down that my life will never be the same because I was told that I was too short to play a sport for a middle school team. The lesson I took away from this experience was that you should never criticize someone, especially regarding something they have no control over, or tell them they can’t do something, because you will destroy their spirit and belief in themselves and their abilities, as well as the drive, desire, and commitment it takes to be successful.
Nathan - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Entered on September 14, 2008
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