Whenever I say that I played basketball, I get that look of disbelief and shock. I am 5′ 1″, and clearly I did not play center. For those of you not familiar with basketball, I played two positions: point guard and shooting guard. My size made other players doubt my abilities to hit the three-point shot and to block shots. Yes, you read that correctly. I blocked shots because I jumped. Thank you to my dance teacher for teaching me how to jump correctly. I did not have any sports-related injuries in the seven years that I played basketball.
After a soul crushing loss of our beloved Badgers basketball team this past Monday night, I started reflecting on how much I loved to play. Basketball was the first sport that challenged me. Women’s basketball was not broadcast on television like it was today, so I grew up emulating the style of the college basketball players. When I watched Coach Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers play, it reminded me of my playing days. I even remembered with fondness how much fun line drills were. At least they were for me. I loved to sprint, and basketball was where I first learned how to really run and sprint. Our warm-up in my first year of high school was five laps around the gym and full-court layups.
I started basketball as a child that struggled with staying healthy. I left basketball at the end of my junior year of high school as an athlete who played with speed, grit and heart. I quit playing because I had lost my passion for the sport. I still miss the game, and I hesitate to play in open gyms at the local Y for the main reason that I would be the only woman. I shoot around with my girls on our hoop, and I work with both of them on learning the fundamentals – dribbling. I coached middle school basketball before my girls were born, and I have already let our principal know that I will definitely volunteer to coach once my girls are old enough to play. Does anyone else struggle with fitting in an old sport back into their lives? Enough women’s only basketball leagues? Should I start one?