I will never stop playing what I love — this sport that is my comforter, my teacher and my companion in life.
The squeak of the court, the swish of a shot, the smack of a block, the shared laughter of teammates — these moments and memories last forever. Ever since the 7th grade, basketball has been one of my favorite aspects of life. I'm not an incredible player, but it has never made a difference. I was easily the worst player on my team in middle school, yet it never changed how much I loved the sport. Endless hours, which were well spent, were put into my practice with the school team, with friends or just by myself. Be it an actual game, practice drills, or imagining I was actually a great player hitting a game winning shot, I would always use my spare time to play.
Even though I love every aspect of basketball, there has always been one part of it that sits as king above all the rest — playing a real game. Those who've played on a team know exactly what I'm talking about. There is absolutely nothing like the nerves you get right before a game, the hype that rises within you as you listen to your music during warm-ups and the rush of adrenaline as soon as that jump ball starts. Once the ball goes up, you know what's about to go down. All that matters in that moment is playing the game.
Reflecting on all this, it becomes clear to me that I love basketball not because it's a sport but because it represents so much more. It's my release, the opportunity for me to just set aside any worries or troubles, even for a moment, and to focus on just playing my heart out in a game that brings me so much excitement and joy. I get connected to those I play with, not only growing closer with teammates but also developing respect for those I play against. Basketball forces me to trust my teammates, teaches me to be a team player and pushes me to get back up and keep playing, no matter how bad the score may be or how bad of a game I might have had. The next game can always be different.
Even with all the losses, the injuries and the frustrations that may arise when playing basketball, there remain endless memories of sheer happiness, joy, contentment. I wouldn't trade any of it away because it has made me who I am today. Without basketball, I wouldn't have had the determination to keep moving forward, the opportunity to meet new people or the feeling of freedom from burdens and responsibilities. To imagine my life without this sport and all that comes with it would be impossible.
I could simply go on forever about the reasons why I love basketball, which I'm sure by now is pretty clear. I dread the day when my body can no longer handle running on the court or handling the ball, but until that day comes, I will never stop playing what I love — this sport that is my comforter, my teacher and my companion in life.