September 5th, 2017
A week after my Siena College commencement, I received my acceptance email to the Victory Scholar Program through Sport Changes Life. I was relieved knowing I would have the opportunity to do something impactful for the next year; helping kids and young adults gain confidence and a positive outlook through various sports. I also knew I would be making more of a difference than if I was working a 9-5 desk job five days a week.
Our first week here included a lot of basketball, both playing and coaching. Most of you know that basketball is not my forte and that I tend to stick to golf since it’s something a bit more my speed and a sport that I have more knowledge in. When Aimee told me I would be playing with the other Scholars in a pick-up basketball game I was understandably apprehensive. Like most athletes, I’m competitive and like being good at my sport. Playing with former collegiate basketball players took me outside of my comfort zone. Luckily, the basketball Scholars helped incorporate me in their plays and included me in the games making me feel more comfortable on the court simply through their inclusiveness and encouragement.
Even though my basketball skills haven’t improved tremendously (yet), I’ve become less reluctant to play, I feel more comfortable and it’s given me the chance to connect with others and ask questions about their collegiate athletic experience.
After our first eHOOPs session, a program that engages at-risk adolescents and young adults through different sports and mentoring, I realized that it didn’t matter that those in the program don’t want to play basketball at a high-level or even join their local club team. Instead, I learned how important it is that they’re participating in a program that will help keep them on a more focused, positive path. Similarly to how it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a college basketball player, but I still participated in pick-up games and attempted to be involved. Watching them run, pass and shoot was such a humbling experience because they were engaging and working together in an effective manner, which may not always be the case in their everyday lives. In America, we are taught at a young age that winning in sports isn’t everything, but it definitely generates a better feeling than losing does. The underlying skills of communication, confidence and teamwork are what actually matter in sports over here because that’s what will have the most impact in a young person’s life, not winning or losing.
I’m thrilled to be a part of an organization that will work to help strengthen the goals of young people and guide them to a more uplifting life path. I’m excited for the next eHOOPs and the future coaching sessions so I can continue to play an important role as a mentor and leader as we will help to develop a more positive mindset for the kids and young adults. I’m so fortunate to be a part of the Victory Scholars program and I will keep my blog and video blogs up-to-date so you guys can follow along with me!