The Glory Days
I feel like it has been a while since I relived my glory days, so I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about my first true love ... basketball. Sport has taught me so much in my life, but basketball was the first thing I was truly passionate about, the first thing that I really put my heart and soul into. For a long time, basketball was my everything - I didn't really know the Alena without basketball ...
I feel like many athletes, or "retired" athletes can relate. Relate to the feeling of not knowing your identity without your sport. I will not sugarcoat it - it's hard. It's really difficult to no longer be able to experience the rush of adrenaline on game day, or use the excuse "I can't, I have basketball." But it is also the beginning to a new chapter - new goals, new identity, and most of the time new clothes because you've finally started to part with your "athlete swag" ... well, let's be real - I'm not sure if any of us could every give up the beloved groutfit ... but you get what I'm saying.
I loved everything about my playing days ... the road trips, weekends away with your team, and even the smell of the gym (weird, I know). Remember how cool you sounded at school when you got to tell your friends that you were going to a tournament on the weekend and had to miss class - I know some of you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about ... it was the best. Every coach and teammate I came into contact with helped shape me into the athlete and person I am today - whether it be good or bad. To be honest, as a kid all my confidence came from being a good athlete, a lot of times it was the only thing I thought I had going for me. After sport, I had to figure out what else it was I had to offer.
Being a "real person" is hard (I'm not referring to being an adult because that's a whole other blog post), but being someone who is not defined by sport takes time. It's also very exciting though, we almost get to re-write our script a little and become a different type of athlete. For example, my brother Dante who used to be so engulfed with football is now a triathlete and has proudly moved on from his days with the pigskin.
As for me, I still identify myself as an athlete. I still train like one, I still set goals like one, I just don't have a specified uniform or game day. If you've been around my blog before you'll notice that I refer to everyone as an athlete actually. An athlete in sport is someone who is lucky enough to still be playing a sport and an athlete in life is someone who chooses to adopt the habits of an athlete in their everyday lives.
I still play basketball whenever I can, whether it's a summer league or pick-up ... I get just as excited and just as fired up as I used to on game day. I love basketball just the same as I did when I first picked it up when I was 8 years old. I love the lessons it taught me and the people it connected me to. I will always keep a small piece of my athlete identity, as I'm sure you can agree that it never fully goes away.
Lastly, I want to give a shout-out to the Ohio University women's bball team ... thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you all and allow me to relive the adrenaline on game days and the early morning workouts - just as I've told you all, enjoy it because it doesn't last forever.