I had one week of try-outs to make the team.
Only one week.
I just ended a great high school basketball experience and was ready to try to try out for college. The coach was only keeping one shooting guard and I had 3 guys to beat. Playing basketball on a full ride scholarship was a dream that I never imagined I could accomplish and it was at my fingertips.
I was in the best shape of my life preparing for that week. I ran and lifted weights. I practiced for 2 months with the team before the season began. I had gotten to know the 3 guys I was competing with. I became a fierce competitor. I studied their skills and weaknesses. I improved areas of my game that they were better at. Everyone, including me, felt that I was more talented and deserved to make the team.
I was so excited for try outs. I was hopeful that all my years of practicing would pay off. Try outs lasted an entire week, each day for 2 hours. We were tested in our conditioning, dribbling, shooting, passing, basically everything.
During the 3rd day of practice, I was running full speed and stepped on a guy’s foot. I heard my ankle pop and fell to the floor in excruciating pain. They carried me to the locker room where I was diagnosed with a sprained ankle – it would be 3-4 week until I could play again.
Panic shook my entire body. Surely the coach saw enough of me to know I was good enough to make the team. I know he watched me play before the season. He must have talked with his previous players and heard that I had enough talent and potential. It all came down to his decision.
My fate rested in his hands…
The next day I hobbled to tryouts on crutches. I was ready to show the coach I was a leader and that I wasn’t giving up. Within a few minutes, the coach entered the gym. He set his things down and walked over to where I was. He held the doors open and asked me to follow him to the hallway.
To my horror, he said those terrible words no athlete ever wants to hear, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you did not make the team.”
I don’t think I heard a word of whatever babbled out of his mouth after that. My heart had just exploded. My dream was shattered.
The Long Walk Back
You must understand that at that point in point my life I was going through some very difficult family problems. I was an emotional and angry 18 year-old. I was so mad at the coach that I wanted to punch something or someone.
As I walked back to my dorm room I was in disbelief. Did this really just happen? Did he really just cut me from the team? Did all my hard work and talent just vanish right before my very eyes? Most importantly, was that just the end of my basketball dreams?
Suddenly, reality hit me like a ton of bricks. Emotions erupted out of me and the tears would not stop. Hiding behind a building, I cried and cried and cried. I walked back to my dorm room with my head hung low and my face stained with tears. What would I do now?
What Lies Ahead?
Basketball was my refuge, the escape from my problems; it was my focus, my meaning in life. I had no clue what I wanted to do for a career and had already questioned if I was capable of succeeding in college, especially after I barely graduated high school.
I was faced with a tough decision.
Do I stay in college or do I go back home and work full time? Was that really the end of my basketball career or did God have something else in store for me that I didn’t know about?
(Be sure to read the next story to find out)