This I Believe

Marika - Houston, Texas
Entered on February 24, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I Can. I Will.

“More hustle, more sweat, more desire, more heart.” Every coach yearns for his players to hustle in a basketball game, “like it is your last.” Every coach prays for team members who will leave their hearts and souls on the wooden basketball court at the end of each and every game. Every coach wants for his or her team to want to play and want to win just as much as he or she does. That is just what I did. I hustled my heart out, after every loose ball, every rebound, and every steal. The ball would be mine! I never noticed the pain of the elbows or the pain of slamming onto the floor or into a wall. I just had the desire to win and a huge heart for the game. I never saw the concussions coming. I could not have predicted the look of horror in my mother’s eyes when the neurologist announced that I had minor brain damage on the left side of my brain due to multiple head injuries. I was cut off from an entire year of any type of physical activity in order to ensure that the damage to my neural stem would heal and would not result in permanent loss of short-term memory and slurring of speech. At 17 years old I was not ready to say goodbye to one of my great loves. I was not ready to let basketball go.

In February 2006, injuries stole my sport away from me faster than I could drop a basketball. I have almost fulfilled the requirement of one year with no basketball, but the time has seemed to go more slowly than any other time in my life. I am an athletic girl and without athletics in my agenda I have felt emptiness, a void that can be replaced by nothing but basketball. In a positive sense, this time has helped me define myself as something more than just an athlete; I now realize that I have much more to offer than a pretty jump shot. As my neurology appointment approaches in February 2007, I have begun a process of deep thinking about my basketball career. I have come to the conclusion that the future is out of my hands. All I can do is pray about what the outcome of this life-changing appointment will be.

I believe I will play basketball again.

Basketball will be a struggle. Not having played in a year will only make the struggle more strenuous, but it is worth so much. Basketball is more than a sport, more than the art of wonderful athleticism. Within my sport, we form a team, a family, a form of great commitment and heart. Basketball is a lifestyle. Within this lifestyle players learn to train mind, heart, body and soul to overcome extreme obstacles. Within this lifestyle you have to obtain a confidence and never give up. Times will always be hard but you must fight for what you want the most. You train hard and give a huge part of yourself to the game. It is basketball. I would like to leave this unforgettable lifestyle behind on a good note. I want to look back on my basketball career in its entirety and I want the finished chapter to bring a grin to my face and a swarm of incredible memories into my head. I do not want to remember basketball as the heartache of threatening injuries that ripped away a perfect future.

I have learned to look at each obstacle head on and to face it. I will overcome this physical and mental hardship; I will triumph. I have faith and most importantly I believe I will play basketball again with more heart and desire than I have ever played with in my entire basketball career. This, I believe.