The first practices were brutal. We did so many drills that at the end of them, I just wanted to go home and go to bed! On top of the grueling practices were my teammates constant ragging on me. We were going over plays and I had no idea what was going on! I was so confused. I had never run anything like this before. My teammates, who had played on a summer league for my coach already knew the plays. They were not encouraging or helpful when we ran them. They wouldn't reach out to help me better understand them. Instead they would yell at me, make fun of me and ask if I was retarded because I couldn't get the hang of the plays. The coach did absolutely nothing to help me either. He could see that I was struggling, but he didn't reach out.
This is how most of practices that year went. I always thought that they would get better, but they never did. I began to grow scared of making a mistake, because I was scared of being yell at and humiliated in front of everyone. The coach rarely put me into practices. He didn't teach me, and I don't think he really cared. This was the same in games. I would sit on the bench for games and maybe get some playing time if we were winning and there was 6 minutes left. I tried to work hard and not give up in practice. I wanted to earn more playing time. I realized if I wanted to stay on this team, I had to continue to work hard and continue on fighting for my spot.
Slowing I began showing improvement. I began to run the plays to perfection. I was working hard to show that I could do what the coach wanted me to do. Slowly my teammates stopped ragging on me. I began to earn my coaches respect. He began to put me into practices more and I started to get more playing time! He decided to start me in some games! Every game I played in I wanted to make the most of them! I would score, pass, grab rebounds, and run fast during my playing times! I was doing the absolute best I could! I was showing my coach that I was not a waste, but that I could play!
Everything was going great for me. I was showing the true player I could be. One particular day, my coach decided to have an early morning practice. That meant that my mom had to drive me to school at 5:00 in the morning because practice started in an hour. This practice was something that changed my life forever. From the start of practice, I began to have sharp pain in my left shin. This was the shin that I got hit on by a car in an accident earlier on that year that had caused me to be in a wheelchair for a week.
After practice my shin was throbbing. I told my mom about it when I came out of school that afternoon, and we made a doctors appointment for the following day. I was nervous. I was wondering what the doctor would say. Is this something really serious? Am I just exaggerating? Was it growing pain or maybe even shin splints? Will I be able to play basketball anymore? All these thoughts and more ran through my mind. I had no idea what to except. I was completely at a loss for words.
(To Be Continued)