Looking back on myself at age 15, I try to remember who I was back then. I remember feeling like an introvert stuck in an extroverts body. I remember being tired all the time. Basketball, tennis, social activities, and school. I was constantly busy. I was constantly trying to win at something, to be the best. Trying to get good grades, trying to be the best point guard, trying to be the best tennis player.
My freshman year of high school, I thought I was pretty hot shit. I was the starting point guard for the JV team because the varsity coach wanted to give me play time on the court. And I was really good. I used to steal the ball and run it in for lay ups. That was my signature move. The only problem was, once I got to the other end of the court, completely uncontested, I’d usually miss the lay up. Especially left handed lay ups. So in order to move up to varsity, I had to practice those damn left handed layups until my muscles knew exactly what to do and my brain could stay out of it.
I got so good at left handed layups, that even to this day, I can do it with my eyes closed. But in all that practice and focus, I neglected the right hand. Even though that’s my primary hand! And I am so uncomfortable shooting layups on my right, I miss them all the time.
Lay ups where kind of the beginning and end of my basketball career. I was really good at making them available to me, so you an imagine the disappointment, when I’d make some incredible steal, baffling my opponent, only to get down the court and miss.
I was also a head case when it came to tennis. I would come up really strong, but those forehands of mine where unwieldy and ended up in the net more times than they didn’t. When they did go over, they were a thing of beauty. An over-exaggerated western grip that took a wind up of the kings, then bam. The ball couldn’t handle all that spin and it would go straight into the damn net. So I fought at tennis and even won a doubles championship my freshman year. But when it came to singles, being on my own on the court, going up against competitors that actually knew how to rally, I usually fell apart at the end. The bad thoughts in my mind would eat away at me, they would tear me down. And even the most unrefined competitors would beat me in the last moments.
Looking back, I was probably better than 90% of other girls my age at not one, but two sports. Sure. If you look at it like that, I was an exceptional athlete. But I was unfocused and held down by my own negativity and insecurities. I never made it, at really anything. I never hit that pinnacle you see in the movies where the underdog comes in for a big win. I never felt that glory of ‘holy shit I did this!’ I always came up short. I was always one or two steps away from the goal. I was always losing to someone who was just slightly better than me.
I rode the bench my sophomore and junior years of basketball, watching one of the best point guards run the show. She owned the original finger roll layup. She was my white, lady Steph Curry. She was awesome to watch and went on to play in college. I was her guard in practice all the way until my day on the court, my senior year, when I was the starting point guard. And I was damn good at left handed lay ups.