Like all things, everything must come to an end. All those long, hard practices (that I thought would actually never end) have come to an end. All those hard-fought games, whether a win or loss, have come to an end. And now here I am, at the end of my basketball career. And surprisingly, I’m OK with it.
I am OK with it because I am happy with the player I have evolved into. I am thankful for all the opportunities basketball has brought me. I find lessons everyday that I have learned from basketball. I am thankful for the friendships and bonds basketball has built. I have finally realized everything basketball has meant to me for the past 15 years.
From the dreams of becoming a WNBA star to making the varsity team in high school to playing one day for a college. I chased my dreams, I fought for my dreams almost everyday for years. And I accomplished them. (Well, besides the WNBA part, but hey a girl can dream.) I fought for my place on the varsity team as a sophomore. I finished my high school career with a group of girls who fought everyday to a 26-1 record. Then, I did what I had dreamed of since I could remember. I had the opportunity to play college ball. I had found a note that I wrote to myself in 4th grade. 4th grade Kaylan had told herself that she will work her ass off to reach her goal of playing college ball. I carried this note to college.
The things basketball have taught me are timeless. From the time I was little, it taught me to work hard. This has carried into everything in my life, from jobs to school to anything I wish to pursue. It has taught me the importance of team. You are never alone when you have a team. It has taught me that not everything will go exactly how you want it to. Shots won’t always fall, and life won’t always go your way either. Basketball has exposed me to plenty of coaches, some who have taught me how I want to be as a coach and few who have shown me exactly what not to do as a coach. I have learned the importance of taking care of my body. It has shown me how to be humble in wins, but also humility in losses. I’ve learned to not quit. Whether during a workout or a game, quitting is not acceptable. Most importantly, basketball has shown me, I CAN. Anything is possible. Never be afraid to chase those dreams.
And here I am, choosing to end my basketball career after only one year of college basketball. At first, I thought that I would be letting down 4th grade Kaylan, but I believe 4th grade Kaylan would be far from let down.
I look back on all the early mornings and late nights spent in a gym. Mornings and nights spent by myself, with my dad, or with other incredible people who have helped me along this journey. I want to thank all the little girls who have looked up to me. I was once that little girl who looked up to players. When I have wanted to quit, you helped me to get up and keep going. I hope you all continue to follow your dreams, no matter what they may be. I want to thank the coaches who put in the extra hours with me. I couldn’t have done it without any of you. I want to thank my teammates who battled on the court and in practice with me. Who pushed me and helped me towards my dreams. Who gave me friendships, laughs, and memories that I will forever cherish. I want to thank my parents for all the time and money spent in order to help me pursue my dreams. And finally, a very special thank you to my dad. The dad who invested just as much into my dreams as I had. Who spent countless hours in the gym with me. Who pulled 48 hour days to coach me. Who put together the team that allowed me to play competitively. Who never let me quit on my dreams. I will always cherish the bond with him that basketball has brought me. Thank you Dad. I love you so much.
Thank you to basketball, for all the lessons and memories. I will carry them close to my heart as I continue my journey. Basketball will always be a part of who I am.
Forever grateful, #11
“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.” -Mia Hamm