This past weekend my team, the Portlaoise Panthers, played Liffey Celtics in Leixlip. Due to the fact that Leixlip is less than a fifteen minute drive from Maynooth, Jim Walsh invited the Maynooth Basketball Academy to come watch the game. As we warmed up I saw several kids from the academy walk in. I was so happy that these kids and their parents took their time out of their busy weekend to come support both teams. I made eye contact with a few of the kids and gave them a quick wave in between warm up drills. I was surprised when one of the girls called my name and pointed to a sign that she had made for me (she even let me keep the sign after the game). With each basket my team made, or steal we had, I heard the kids in the stands screaming for us. Although my team didn’t get the result we wanted, that game helped remind me that basketball is sometimes more than just what is reflected on the scoreboard.
This game reminded me why I play basketball, why I coach, and why I work so hard in the classroom: to serve as a role model. I looked up to so many athletes growing up, and I am honored that there are kids that now look up to me. I know that my team will turn it around next game because we want to win, and we also want to show the kids that support us how hard work can pay off. I coach these kids every week, and I love to see them become better basketball players, but I hope that they realize everything that basketball, and sports in general, can offer.
I am so thankful to the Maynooth Basketball Academy for coming out to support both teams this past week, and a big shout out to some of the under 16 Kilcock girls that came out to support as well. The Kilcock team has been one of my favorite parts about coaching year. I was so proud of these girls when they won their cup match this past weekend, and I was incredibly touched when one of the girls referred to me as the team’s ‘older sister’. I am truly lucky to be surrounded by such great people in Maynooth. Part of my responsibility as a Victory Scholar is to support the community, but time and time again I am reminded by how much the community supports me.