Feb 27, 2022

Happy Fire Friday, 🔥

This one is going to get a little personal.

When I was a freshman in high school, I had a coach tell me I was never going to play at the next level

I was 14 years old, and it was one of the biggest games of the year.

It was late in the 4th quarter, and I had just made back-to-back mistakes in a close game against our rivals. 

I was subbed out.

I ran to the end of the bench and threw my head in my jersey. I hadn't reached the maturity level of a PG just yet, and I was visibly upset with myself.

I just cared so much about doing a good job, and now we were certainly going to lose. I felt like I had let the whole team down.

My coach walked over.

Despite a full gym, the only thing I could hear was the *clicks* of her heels on the gym floor.

After what felt like an eternity, she reached my chair.

She yelled at me. A lot. I told you some of what she said at the top of this page. 

And at the end of it all, she demanded I take myself to the locker room for the rest of the game. That she didn't want "a player like me" on her bench.

I had to run, sobbing, past the varsity team to make it back to the locker room. 

I was hurt.

I was embarrassed.

I felt bullied.

I felt small. 

And in that one moment, as I made my way down that long, dark hallway, I had decided it was time to give up my personal legend. My first love. I was going to quit playing basketball.

I was good at music, maybe I could focus more on that. 

I liked to write, maybe I could be a poet. Maybe a novelist.

I had seen some guys scraping up gum off of the sidewalk at the outlet mall, and that seemed like honest work.

All I knew was that I couldn't stay.

After I sat down on the cold concrete bench, my head went straight down into my hands.

I was going to quit.

But then...

A hero stepped in.

Her name was Lindie Kimbro. She was the star of the varsity team.

I didn't know Lindie very well, but I looked up to her a lot. There were a couple of times when she found me in the gym alone and invited me to work out with her, and she never took it easy on me. I never won any drills against her. Not one. She (unapologetically) made me better.

I hadn't even noticed that Lindie had followed so close behind me that she came in with the same, single swing of the door.

She knelt down in front of me, and she physically lifted my chin:

"BriAnna, you are a great basketball player. I see it in you. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't give up. Don't quit this. There's so much more for you here."

She made me promise not to quit, to which I obliged.

And then she left the locker room as quickly as she had entered.

After a cloudy lull of 20 seconds or so, I heard the crowd go wild. I knew it. We lost. And my 14-year-old brain was still convinced that it was all my fault. 

All of the sudden, I was startled by one of my teammates who burst into the locker room!

"Bri, we're in overtime and we need you! Coach said that if we wanted you to come back, we had to come to get you ourselves. Let's go!"

That was as big of a rollercoaster as five minutes could be, but without hesitation, I reacted! I sprinted behind her and back into the huddle, to be greeted by all smiles and one frown.

I didn't quit that day.

I went back in the game.

We won in OT. And it was the most complicated win of my life. 

I didn't realize this until months, or maybe even years later, but all of what I am doing right now can be looped back to that one moment...

one act of another...

one teammate who decided to come and get me...

one person who decided it was more important to lift me up than to stand there and watch.

I was never the same.

Since that one moment,

I've held my chin higher. 

I've believed beyond the bullies.

I've kept chasing my dream no matter what.

The prideful, "Stop being so sensitive!" part of me wishes that I stuck it out with that coach. But I didn't. I couldn't. I ended up transferring schools.

I ended up at the school across the train tracks that was not as big or as established. And while the school I left made it to state every year, I only got to play in one playoff game during my high school career.

And it was the best decision I've ever made. 

At my new school, I got to play for a coach that saw value in me. That treated me like the developing, imperfect young human that I was. 

And even though we didn't win as many games, I was surrounded by a system of people who believed in me.

And for the record... I did go on to play at the next level.   :)

Hopefully, most of you reading will not have a story like this.

But if I had a nickel for every conversation I've had with a friend who used to play sports but quit because of a coach... I'd be a rich, rich woman.

My challenge to you, should you choose to accept it:

Be someone's hero today.

A lot of the time, it's obvious when those around you are struggling... and a lot of the time, it's not.

Listen closely. Pay attention.

And I don't know who needs to hear this, but if you're in a place that no longer brings you joy... it's okay to get out of that place. There's nothing in the world that is more important than the health between your ears.

Does this mean that coaches won't be hard on you? No. The best coaches I've had have found a way to communicate hard truths with love

There is a difference between a coach who pushes you and a coach who pulls you down. If you're having a hard time, talk to someone about it. 

Lindie, if you're reading this, thank you. 

Without your heroism, I wouldn't have leaned back into basketball. I wouldn't have the opportunity to travel around the country to teach shooting. I wouldn't be here writing this today.

Tell someone you believe in them just because you can. 

Everyone needs more reassurance than they are currently getting.

You never know just how impactful one moment can be.

Lift someone up this weekend. :)

I'll see you next Friday. 🔥

Shooters Shoot.