This I Believe

Alyssa - Seal Beach, California
Entered on March 18, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: community, sports

“Play as a team, not as individuals”. That quote was stressed frequently by my former basketball coaches. Being a seven-year-old, I never quite understood that expression until a few years ago. My teammates and I listened to that exact phrase before every game, and we continually conceived nothing of it. This game was different. Preparing for our accustomed pre-game speech, the image of ten second graders and two coaches squatting in the dimly lit corner of the Rancho Alamitos gym remains clear in my mind. While one of our coaches brought out a sixty-four pack of crayons, our giggling and chitchat were silenced at the interesting change in routine. Our coaches then directed us to select any crayon of our choosing. Of course we all quarreled over the red crayon considering that was the color of our team. In our excitement, our coaches took a random crayon and cracked it; they explained that a single crayon represented a single player. Like an army clenches their weapons we sat there, crayons in hand waiting in attentiveness. Prying the ten crayons from our tiny hands, our coaches bundled up the crayons and attempted to crack them again. However, this time, they were not so triumphant. They told us that this represented our team. They went on to explain that a team is always stronger than an individual, and as long as we stuck together our basketball and social future would be promising. Although I did not realize it at the time, that day I learned an important lesson that has stuck with me throughout the years.

In the mind of second graders, that metaphor might have only connected with basketball. But my coaches teachings have help to shape who I am today. They repeatedly drilled into my mind this lesson: so it is throughout life, the union is always greater than its parts. Just as a single player cannot win a game alone, a person is greater while surrounded with the comfort of friends and family. A lack of union can be viewed perhaps as a poet without words. Similarly individual parts, by themselves, are fruitless, but put them together and you’ve got an operating machine. All of this I have learned through my basketball coaches.

Even after our team disbanded a year ago, my teammates and I still remain the best of friends thanks to our exceptional coaches. Through their guidance and support, I now know I can always rely on my former teammates and coaches. After seven years, my previous teammates and I recall this lesson which I think has made our friendship so remarkable. They have helped me grasp the fact that the term “sister” does not always have to imply familial relations. The relationship that we ten share can never be easily broken; we are stronger together than apart. As said by H.E. Luccock, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it”.