#001: More than a Game

Posted By: ThomasRivard
Posted On: September 3rd, 2018
Attending: NUI Galway

There are countless things you cannot recover in life, but the most difficult to come to terms with is time after it is gone.

My collegiate playing career was turbulent to say the least. From transferring to another institution after my freshman year to several sustained injuries, each day provided a set of obstacles to overcome in their own right. However, the one underlying constant throughout my career was that tomorrow was always another opportunity to play. Once my eligibility cleared, or that hip tear healed, or that concussion protocol was passed, I’d head down to the locker room, suit up in my Colgate maroon and whites, and it’d be back to business as usual.

Then came October 19, 2017.

What began as an ordinary team practice has since become a significant moment in my life. Just two weeks before our season opener in my senior season, I was sidelined from injury with no expected timetable for return in sight. A year poised to be most memorable as the culmination of the time and effort I invested to achieve my dream of competing at the highest level quickly became tarnished with the haunting possibility of never competing in organized basketball again. For the first time in my life, tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed to be another day to play.

The thought of ending my playing career on such uncontrollable terms left me feeling helpless and confused. For as long as I can remember, basketball has been a sizable piece of my life. Without the chance to play the game I grew up on, I felt that piece missing from my identity.

It wasn’t simply just the game I feared losing, but rather everything else that came with it. Sure, the game itself has provided me with incredible experiences, like competing against Hall of Fame caliber coaches in Jim Boeheim and Mike Brey and playing in top venues around the country. But it has been the opportunities offered beyond the court I am forever thankful for. Because of this sport, I’ve been able to travel internationally and experience new cultures with my teammates. Because of this sport, I received an undergraduate education at a prestigious university. Because of this sport, I’ve encountered and befriended so many incredible people from all walks of life. The game of basketball has so profoundly influenced my life that it started even before I was born. I think back to my grandmother, a first generation immigrant, who used play-by-play commentary of Celtics’ games to develop her understanding of the English language and progress her assimilation into American society. Had it not been for this game, who knows where I’d be today.

I’m beyond grateful to Sport Changes Life for the chance to gain closure on my playing career on my own terms after missing my senior season. Beyond that, however, I am excited for the opportunity to share my personal experiences and to pass forward the opportunities basketball has given me to the youth of Ireland. I know the power and influence that one great coach, or mentor, can have on a young mind. I’ve been fortunate enough to play for a great number of them (shoutout to Bob Berman, Denny Brigley, Jamie Sullivan, and Tommy Verdell to name a few); each one having helped inspire and challenge me on and off the court. I’ve come to terms that I’ll have to hang up my sneakers for good one day, but until then, I intend to make the most of the time I have left.

Keep updated with my blogs and social media to follow my journey throughout the year! Cheers!

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