May 26th. 7pm.
After a long day of work, I decide to check my emails as usual. I have been waiting since January when I applied to the Sport Changes Life Program for a final email of acceptance or rejection into the program! For the last five months I had been day dreaming what my life would be like if I got accepted into the program- running around Ireland, getting to work with kids, getting to play basketball again after a year of being in the “real world.” I would also think to myself, what if I didn’t get into the program? My life would remain the same, status quo, but I would make the best of that situation. So I waited and waited until finally May 26th came around and I got an email saying I WAS ACCEPTED! Was this another one of my daydreams or was this reality? Well fortunately, it was reality!
The next three months, were a lot of what ifs? What if this program wasn’t what I thought it was? What if I wasn’t as good at basketball as the other scholars? What if something happened to my family while I was away for so long? I have always worried about things, often things I can’t control. However, I also love to take risks and chances having a firm belief that things always work out how they should. So I continued to work out, prepare, and enjoy spending the last couple months I had with my family! As August 22nd got closer and closer, I became more and more anxious about the unknown, but also excited for what was to come next!
Saying goodbye to my incredible support system of my family and friends was very hard, but arriving in Ireland was incredible. We first drove to Belfast to do a ten-day training with the other Victory Scholars. Getting to know each of the Victory Scholars was great. My favorite part of the entire training was when several of the scholars and I got to share our personal stories- our basketball journey and what lead us here to this moment. Hearing these stories were incredibly moving, and I was once again reminded that we are all fighting our own individual battles, but basketball is something that can always bring us together, and something that has given us this amazing opportunity to spend 10 months changing lives in Ireland. By the end of the session, we were all crying and hugging. I then began to think to myself- what if I was made to come here for a reason? What if I was supposed to be here in this moment to share my story with others, with kids who needed to hear it the most at a crucial time in their young lives. What if I can be that one person who just makes a small difference in the world?
With this new positive and inspired way of thinking, it was time to head to Letterkenny, my new home for the next 10 months! My amazing roommates are Chaz and Faith who make this whole journey a lot more fun with our conversations and laughs! After “technical difficulties” of getting all our large bags in to the smallest car, we were off to Letterkenny. When we arrived, we were greeted with the most open arms I have ever seen. Our landlord, Ed, our team mom, Attracta, and our coach, Niall have all been so warm, welcoming, and amazing. We certainly felt right at home! We were so excited because our house is awesome and for me especially because it is 15 minutes from the beach!! (YAY, you all know how much I love the ocean!) Letterkenny and the County of Donegal is just absolutely stunning, I have to keep pinching myself that this is real life and not one of those daydreams! Over the past couple of days, we have gotten to meet some of the people and kids we will be working with for the next year, and I am beyond excited to get to know them and start making connections with them! Now, all I can think is WHAT IF THIS IS THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE…
Thank you all for making this possible! Stay tuned for more adventures.