Some days are burned into my memory.
February 14, 2010 was one of those days. I had recently tried out for a basketball team called Yonsei that travels to Japan through a home stay program. I had been dreaming about making this team for years; seeing Japan with a bunch of really close friends, and just getting to experience the culture, all while doing one of my favorite things: playing basketball. On this day, I received news from the organization running the program. “We are sorry to inform you… This does not mean you have failed in any way…” That last part was a lie. I reread the email over and over, hoping to find something inside it that showed what I had read was a lie. As the tears poured out from my eyes and rolled down my face, I wondered, “What did I do wrong? Was I not likeable? Or was I just not good enough?” All of these words burned themselves into my mind, stamped themselves to my soul, embedded in my veins, until each word became pure pain.
February 16, 2013. Fast forward almost exactly 3 years from that terrible day to our first CIF game against Burroughs High School, at their gym. Our team was the obvious underdog; an unranked team, with a losing record, playing a league champion, 8th seed, who only had five losses. The gym was packed and loud. I remember hearing the student section shout all of these rude comments. Most of the game was a blur, until the final minute. The score was us leading by one, 56 to 55, and I had been fouled and sent to the free throw line. During that game, I had already missed quite a few free throws and shots. To add to it, I had been slightly sick. I saw my teammates on the bench, in our traditional crossed legs, along with locking arms. Then somehow, through all of the chaos and screaming I heard one voice: my dad’s. He yelled, “Take a half step back from the line.” So I did. The ref gave me the ball. Dribble. Dribble. Dribble. Spin. Line up. Bounce. Bounce. Turn. Bounce. Shoot. The ball sailed through the air, bounced around the rim, and went through the net! I repeated my routine again. Swish! Those free throws were my only points that game, but they were crucial, as we won 61 to 57. As soon as the buzzer went off it was insane! Screaming! Hugging! Jumping! From here out, it was all pure happiness. All of the blood, sweat, and tears of the season were all worth it, despite the fact we lost our next game, and I did not play at all.
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” –Arthur Ashe