Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Basketball has been a part of my life since I was nine years old. It is something that I very much enjoy participating in and probably always will. More importantly, however, playing basketball has made me into the person that I am today. I've learned persistence, responsibility, and team work, which to me are some of the most important qualities a person should be taught to have. Seventh and eighth grade were the first years that we were allowed to play basketball as a school sport. Within our grade we had what was called the "A" team, which was composed of the best players in our age group, and the "B" team that included the less skilled kids. Both seventh and eighth grade years I was a member of the second string B team. I might add, though, that we went undefeated both years. I practiced on the goal in our yard all summer, but when it was time to join the high school team, I do not think I could have been more nervous.

I made the A team and played in the second or third string all year. Again, I worked hard during the off-season and in the summer and came back the next year to be a starter on the junior varsity team. Still not comfortable with my skill level, I continued to put everything I had into becoming a better basketball player. Last year, as a junior, I made the varsity team and was usually the second or third person off of the bench. My goal as a senior is to be a starter on the varsity team, and to be confident with my skill level, and all that I have worked so hard to achieve. Playing basketball, especially the past five years, has taught me to be persistent and hard working. I've learned to set high goals for myself and not quit until those goals are met.

High school basketball is a longer season than any other sport. It lasts almost four months, from late October until early February. With such a long season, it is easy to become both physically and mentally exhausted. I have learned to organize my time so that I have time to play in an 8:00p.m. game, do my homework, and still be in bed by 11:00p.m. so that I will be rested for practice early the next morning. The long basketball season has also taught me responsibility. The responsibility to be at every game and every practice early as well as the responsibility to keep my grades up even with a busy schedule. As a senior, I also have the responsibility to be a role model and a leader on and off the court.

Lastly, I am most grateful for the friends I have made and all of the different people I have met. Our basketball team is composed of girls with a variety of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and personalities. With these people as my teammates, I have come to know each and every one of them on a personal level. Being in basketball has taught me how important it is to be open-minded and befriend these people who I otherwise might have overlooked. There is Charmeine who is often mistaken for a boy, or Kate who is almost deaf and wouldn't go anywhere without her Bible, or Constance who will tell you about the life she lives on the east side of town if you are patient enough, and remember not to treat her with any pity. I feel that our common interest in basketball has brought this group together as a family and I have seen what we can accomplish as a team. I have learned that people are wrong for dismissing a person simply because he or she is different from himself, and that one should always try to connect with others based on respect and compassion for them as fellow human beings.

The lessons I've learned by making basketball a part of my life have shaped who I am and have provided a foundation for what I will become. I would not trade the experiences I have had or the people I have met for anything.