I was taught at a young age the “definition” of insanity, as it pertains to all aspects of life. Insanity is when you do something over and over again and expect a different result. It made sense then, and it makes sense now. We all need change when change is needed for progress and ultimately success. The only thing I didn’t count on was how hard change was going to be.
Ready or not, change came pretty quickly for me. I started out my freshman year of high school unsure of my future in basketball. Just coming off a knee injury, I had my friends and teammates from my AAU teams in the summer tell me stories of being on varsity as a freshman. I felt behind, never going to be able to catch up. By my senior year, I was playing with the highest level in the state and the country. I was ready to play division-1 college basketball. In a matter of under four years, my dream of becoming a college basketball player went from fantasy to reality.
That change didn’t come by accident. I had to work harder, do things I had never done before, work with people I had never met, leave behind some folks I had known for years. It made me become a better player, and it landed me in a division-1 program. I knew it was what I had to do, and I was willing to do it, no matter how hard it was. I was never one to shy away from a challenge anyway. Basketball was the only thing that is straightforward in my life. No matter how challenging basketball got, there was always a payoff in the end. That was the constant I always counted on.
I graduated June 7th, 2015, around 1:00 P.M. Three hours later, I was in a car headed to the University. 6 hours later, I waved goodbye to my parents for the summer. 6 more hours later, I was doing my first lift as a college basketball player. Time did not slow down in those hours, I was not able to adjust that quickly. I was used to changing at this point and after quite possibly the most difficult summer of my life, I got through because of that constant of hard work paying off, but something inside me changed. I wasn’t the best player on the court anymore. All of the players around me had proven themselves as a star at the collegiate level, and I was an outlier. I was the freshman that didn’t make varsity again.
So I had to work harder. I earned minutes off the bench. I worked myself to the brink of my mental and physical capabilities. After one year, the constant never changed, and I worked my way onto the court. Only thing was, while I succeeded in my own head, the team was losing. A lot. We ended up in last place in the conference. We got beat by everyone in the conference, and by more points than I’d like to remember.
So what do you do? You work hard.
The next year came and we were working harder than ever before. People were on edge, it was a more hostile environment. We demanded more from each other and ourselves. We worked better as a team. The team was playing the best basketball since we had been playing together.
And we still lost. That’s where I was speechless. The constant I had relied on for so long was no longer that simple. My core belief that it all works out when you put in the work was shook. Was I not working hard enough? Was there something else at play here? Something I haven’t considered? I bled, I sweat, and I broke down these past few years, all for a game that I love. I understand that it won’t love me back sometimes, but in the end, it works out for those who work, right?
I’m convinced I’ve been missing something. Of course, this is a simple and incomplete synopsis of how my two years in college athletics have gone. There are layers I cannot succinctly describe in a blog post. I love playing still, I don’t think anything or anyone will change that. The game itself, however, has become more complicated. A simple attitude change won’t fix a team’s woes. It takes an entire overhaul of philosophy and work ethic. It takes changing the definition of a team to truly see results. I’m not used to that yet, but time has never been a friend to me, so my only choice is to adjust.
Constants are great. We cannot rely on them, however.
They make you feel comfortable and secure. Constants in a family create a home, a support system that never goes away. Constants in values create integrity in a person. Constants in habits, however, can create complacency, which is why change is required. We always look for ways to improve ourselves (how we eat, how we live, how we work), and even though it makes us feel insecure or even lost sometimes, it is the only way to progress.
My third year in, and I’m about to face more change than I’ve ever had with a team. I’m not sure how it’s going to go. People have asked me how it has been, and I honestly can only tell them I don’t know. Because it is only the beginning of a brand new start. No one knows how it is going to go. There’s only one thought that is bringing me peace, and it is this: changing our constants is the only way to change our results. So I’m willing to take that chance. I have been unsuccessful for a few years now as a college athlete, and if I don’t change, I can’t expect to wake up the next day a winner.