A Letter to Benchwarmers

| April 18, 2012

I love basketball. I’ve played for 13 years, and it’s about time we make it official. But when I think back on those years, there’s a void: a time I didn’t love the game. It drives me insane that I didn’t, but I didn’t know how I could as I sat there watching others enjoy my happiness. Then I came to college and remembered  what kept me there: playing.

Now I think of my teammates, the younger girls following in my footsteps, and worry. I want them to love the game the entire time. I don’t want them to forget about the grainy texture of the leather ball, about the echoing bounces that sound like doors shutting behind you, and everything that brings them back to the hardwood daily. I want to teach them to remember.

TO THE KIDS SITTING ON THE BENCH:

There will come a moment when you realize it was never up to you. I don’t want that moment to come too late. You can’t waste your time. You can’t lose your love for the game.

I want you to enjoy it – hate it – move forward with it. I want you to celebrate emotions, not minutes. Agonize over attainable goals, not absent seconds. Stop trying to impress others. Start impressing yourself. I want you to grow sick of being controlled, and do something about it. Forget all the other voices, focus on your own.

I don’t want you to forget why you are here. I don’t want you to lose track of who you are.

Remember when you became addicted to the sport. When you found yourself itching to play, and you ignored all other responsibilities. You just wanted to see how fast you could dribble up the court, you just wanted to see yourself. I want you to shrug off insults, but take in criticism. Try for new abilities, not for forgettable time. Do it for yourself. Don’t make your reason for ball be somebody who doesn’t know you. You’re the only one who knows you.

I don’t want you to settle for what you’re told.

I want you to cry and fight and smile and laugh and use it all. Think about what you enjoy and why it is gone. Keep playing so you can laugh at anybody who tries to make you stop. Smile because you love the game. Frown only when you’re pushing yourself. I want you to be in charge.

Seriously, Google it.

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Category: featured, Sports

Cecilia Weddell

About the Author ()

Cecilia – or Ceci, but never Sassy – is a managing editor for Culture Shock and a junior majoring in Comparative Literature and minoring in math. She's from El Paso, Texas, which ensures that she occasionally speaks in Spanglish and is always fascinated by precipitation. Ceci likes spoken word poetry, basketball, and bad knock-knock jokes. Follow Ceci on Twitter: @CCWeddell

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  1. Why Freshmen and Seniors are the Same | Culture Shock | May 4, 2012
  1. Cecilia Weddell Cecilia Weddell says:

    Nikki, you rule!
    Ryan, I’m so glad you know about it. Whenever I wear my CLUB TRIL shirt, people just assume I’m a dance club promoter.
    Rhiannon, I’m so glad that it still spoke to you :) And no! We have totally different subjects and yours was fantastic!
    Carly, I’m so happy that you made that parallel. I definitely grew from the experience, as I’m sure you did. Sports are small, intensified, sweaty metaphors for life

  2. Carly Fleming says:

    I needed this post when I was playing basketball in high school, but I think in many ways I will always need it. We all need it. Lessons learned in sports are transferrable to life. As long as one is striving to achieve something there will be challenges to overcome. There will be people telling us that we are not good enough and insults to shrug off. Your advice is crucial in overcoming those obstacles: aim to impress yourself instead of others, never lose sight of the love and passion that motivates you, take in useful criticism.

  3. Rhiannon Pabich Rhiannon Pabich says:

    Ceci, this is beautiful. I never played a sport and yet your advice speaks to my younger self. I hope that people following in your footsteps do read & absorb this post, because it’s so well done & important.

    Your letter totally wins. ;)

  4. Ryan Brister Ryan Brister says:

    I love Club Tril.

  5. Nikki says:

    Sweet Justice.