I don’t know when it changes – when you grow up. Does it happen in a single moment? A momentous change that ends the before and starts a new beginning? No, I don’t think so. I believe it a much slower progression – one that takes its time, until seemingly suddenly, it has already happened. And you can’t go back, but you wouldn’t want to because the what was has made the what is. The what is…is…so special.
The colors across campus in late October at the University of Wyoming are a perfect reflection of the banners that fly – tones of brown and gold. I walked among the buildings and many rooms of the athletic department along with my former teammates in reverence and nostalgia for a period of life now fifteen years in the past. The tangy smell of athletic tape adhesive as we walked past the training room, the sound of a referee’s whistle accompanied by the all too familiar squeak of shoes on hardwood – it felt at the same time like a very long distant past…and yet…the power of being in that place created such potent emotions within me, I could have been there only yesterday – a fresh faced eighteen year old, tall and lanky – but with the potential to one day be a strong athlete, naïve and more than a little scared – but with the hope of learning to become a leader. What would I tell her…with my gained perspective and wisdom of the future…what would I tell her if I could?
Honestly, I don’t know if she would listen. She was…is…a stubborn, willful, and sometimes very focused kind of person not easily influenced. But, if she would listen I’d tell her…
It is going to be hard. What you are practicing – the doing hard things…it will make you stronger. There will be much harder things in the future far beyond what you will learn to endure here – and this practice you’re doing, it will aid your success in challenges of all kinds. You can do hard things and perhaps in my telling you, you will believe it.
Slow down. It is exciting – I remember. The progression of skill, maturity, and life – it is all so exciting. Fear is also exciting and even more motivating. Don’t wish it away…no matter how hard it gets, no matter how scared you are. Yes, this is cliché – certainly, but so damn true. This is it – your one opportunity at this experience. Don’t wish it to fly by – it will anyway.
The people are the most important. I think she already knows this…but, just in case. I’d tell her. There will be times in life – many of them – when you will not know what the right course of action is, how to move forward, or if you’re doing the right thing. That doesn’t change. Keep the good people close and no matter what you choose, you will be alright.
You can’t go back – at least not in the spirit of regret with the intention to change, but you won’t want to…because the what was has made the what is…and the what is … is… so special.
I dedicate this post to my teammates. Your friendships are treasure beyond description – your love and support have been a part of my life far beyond what I could have imagined that first time we took the court. You are the best part – the biggest prize – the greatest gain.