by Calli Newberry
When I played high school basketball, it took me a long time to figure out my role. I was a sophomore who didn’t think I deserved to be a part of the team, let alone start as point guard. My coach made me lead the warm up at practice and I felt like an imposter. Like who was I to be leading this team? I couldn’t even drive myself to team dinners!
Our program had been successful in the past and I was afraid of being the one to break the streak of District titles. My fear only got worse after our first BWAC geam. I got two incredibly quick and stupid fouls and had to sit the first half. We also lost.
So yeah, things didn’t start off too hot and my self-doubt only grew. I didn’t quit though, and thankfully my coaches and teammates didn’t give up on me either. We never lost another BWAC game after that and we went on to win three District titles. Everything worked out just fine.
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Sometimes as an athlete, you get thrown into situations and positions you weren’t prepared for. You feel unqualified and uncomfortable. Maybe the quarterback before you was more talented or the captain was a better leader. Maybe the goalie was bigger or the No. 1 singles player had a better serve. There are countless ways you could feel inadequate.
But whoever played before you isn’t there now. Their leadership style might’ve been different or they might have been more talented, but that doesn’t matter because this is a new season and this is a new team. And as a member of this new team, it’s your responsibility to own it.
There’s a verse in the Bible about a young Jewish woman named Esther who was made queen during a time when all of the Jews’ lives were being threatened. Her cousin said to her, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Taking her cousin’s advice, she decided to step into her role in that season of her life and during that time of history. She found favor with the king and persuaded him to not only prevent the killing of her people, but also to give them the right to defend themselves in the future. This was a really big deal.
Obviously there’s a difference between playing a high school sport and saving the lives of an entire group of people, but I think the principle is the same.
You are a part of your current team for a reason. You have the talents and skills that you have for a reason. Things might go differently than they have in the past, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t succeed.
I was not an excellent shooter in basketball. I practiced a ton, but for some reason scoring was just not my thing. But I could defend really well and I could find my teammates who were way better at shooting than I was and give them good passes instead.
And that was different from the team before me. Those girls were great at shooting threes and had a much more spread out offense. They won a few District titles too, just in a different way, and that’s okay.
You will be far more successful if you know and use the strengths and skills you have to help your team than if you try to force yourself to be an athlete that you’re not. And I can almost guarantee you’ll have more fun along the way. It’s easier to feel more confident and relaxed when you’re playing and competing with your natural talents.
This applies to life outside of sports too. You might be trying to fit into a different friend group or decide a future career path. Don’t try to force yourself to be something that you’re not. You were called and created to be in this season with the gift and talents you have for a purpose. It’s just up to you to step into that role.