By Ashley Hale, January 23, 2018 –
I am a big believer that taking part in organized activities can instill principles and life lessons that kids will utilize in their teen years and beyond.
Most of my childhood memories revolve around sports. From ages 5-18 sports were such a huge part of my life. I loved competing.
At age 15 a huge curveball was thrown, curtailing my sports career. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and was told I had to stop participating in everything but basketball.
I pushed through basketball for another 2 years until I had to stop because my body was giving out. Saying I was devastated is an understatement. I knew playing sports was very important to me, but I never realized just how important until the opportunity to play was taken away.
It took two whole weeks to gather myself enough to sit down with my coaches and deliver the news. I was sure I would walk out of the room totally devastated, but to my surprise I didn’t.
I still remember the exact words my coach said: “Ashley I’ve watched you give 150 percent since all of this started. It kills me that you can’t play anymore, but you know the game so well and we’d love for you to stay with us to be another eye and help with coaching and stats.” I was speechless.
That changed my perspective completely. I immediately realized that just because things don’t exactly go our way doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of it. There are so many valuable lessons I learned about life and about myself that I gained from participating in organized activities.
- The value of hard work – I had to work hard to achieve my goals and reach my potential. You can’t snap your fingers and be the person you want to be. You have to set goals, put in effort, and be consistent.
- Teamwork – For a team to be successful we had to work together. If a piece of the puzzle was missing, things were out of whack. We had to figure out how to make them fit together to reach our common goals. What may be out of reach for one individual can often be accomplished through teamwork.
- Discipline equals success – It’s a lesson you learn quickly in organized sports; you get out what you put in. If you want the joy of victory you must put in what it takes to improve and excel.
- Overcoming adversity – Life sometimes isn’t fair and obstacles arise. Through organized sports I learned to sit back, review a situation, make appropriate changes and try again. The feeling of accomplishment after a setback provides the same high as the adrenaline rush right before a jump ball in a basketball game.
The greatest thing I learned is that although sometimes we lose the things we love most, with support and determination we can make it through. Medical issues took me out of the game but they didn’t take me out of the amazing friendships, bonds, and lessons years of participating in organized activities gave me.
In fact, if it wasn’t for key influences from coaches, teammates, my parents and friends, I know I would have had a much larger mountain to climb.