I tucked my hands, palms down, under my thighs, leaned forward and stared intently at the game. As I watched the players make their way up and down the court with the ball, my heart began to pound. I knew – for certain – I was looking at my future. When the whistle blew, I poked my mom’s arm with my tiny finger.
“Mom, I want to play basketball.”
Mom turned, her cat eye glasses peering down at me, and said, “They don’t have basketball for grade school girls, Sonya.”
“Oh,” I said under my breath, my eyes narrowing as I looked back to the court with a heavy heart. “That’s not fair.”
Resting a hand on my shoulder, my mom hesitated then replied, “That doesn’t mean you can’t play.”
Not long after, Dad hoisted an old railroad tie vertically, cemented it into the ground and attached a backboard and hoop so my brother and I could toss a basketball around with the kids in the neighborhood. And tossing, not shooting, was what we did with no one to coach us. But it was the beginning of my love affair with the game.
Life is all about finding something you are passionate about. I love basketball and play year round in competitive leagues all over Seattle. I have been coaching high school and youth teams for over 20 years, and though my passion is not quite as fanatical as it used to be, basketball is still a part of my soul. By choice, my family comes first, but I feel happiest when I know I have a basketball game to play each week. The combination of family, friends, writing and basketball keep life full and exciting, but there were days (high school, college, right after college) when basketball was the focus of my life, when I played every day.
After my accident, I began working through my grief by writing but eventually returned to my roots, my love of basketball, to help in my emotional and physical recovery. Having that connection, and the desire to “find my game face”, to get out there and play, and live again, gave me hope. It’s what I lived for. A lot of things contributed to my recovery, but without the connection to the soft leather ball that fits so perfectly in my hand, and makes me feel at home when I run my fingers across the narrow rubber ridges that can lead to a perfect back spin, without that connection, I don’t know how far I could have come with my recovery. Once I made the goal to play basketball again, nothing could stop me.
Find your passion; it will help lead you through life.