May 3, 2012

The End...

I haven’t written in forever, and there’s a reason for that. These past few weeks have been really, really intense. Every year, the top two teams of the conference I play in move up to the top level in France, and the bottom two move down to an entirely different conference. If my team were to finish in the bottom two, not only do we move down a level, but the teams under us who also play for Limoges would have to move down. It’s a slippery slope, and not one I would ever want to be a part of. Even so, the last few weeks of my career came with this looming cloud over every game: any loss was accompanied by the threat of our team dropping out of our league. Needless to say, I’ve been overwhelmed with lots of different thoughts and feelings (i.e., nostalgia about playing my last games, hating to lose, wanting to win for the girls I’ve come to know and love on my team, and refusing to accept ending my career not only with a losing season, but a losing season leading to my team’s dropping out of its conference). With all that at stake, I haven’t been doing much thinking beyond how I can do my best to make sure we win these last few games, hence the lack of blogging.
A very serious free throw

Our last four games of the season really drew the picture for this past Saturday night. Going 1-2 in the previous three games, we had our work cut out for us. Even with a win our staying in/dropping out of our league could end up out of our hands. Basically, we needed to win, needed some other teams in the conference to win too (maintaining their position in the conference), and still needed other teams to lose to put us ahead by a mere point, keeping us safe and out of the “red zone.” Point blank: the stars needed to align. While the stars aligned in some fashion – we ended up winning by two in a cutthroat match with twenty lead changes – we found that the other teams in the conference did not hold up their end of our seemingly hopeless bargain, and we would drop out of our league.

As a player of part of a team, that kills me. We had a really trying year. With a coach change mid-season, our fair share of injuries, and the everyday battles that come with being a professional basketball player, this year felt like the accumulation of multiple seasons for me (i.e. physical fatigue of my season at Saint Joe’s, and the disappointment of my first season (and first losing season ever) at TCNJ). For someone who hates to lose, I could feel my heart breaking after each loss, and wondered purpose I was fulfilling throughout the course of this season.

As a player about to retire and reflecting on her career, I had to look further. At the end of the day, the only question that ever truly matters to me is: did I do my best and conduct myself in a way I can be proud of? When I can honestly answer ‘yes’ to that question, there’s not a whole lot more I can feel about a situation other than closure.

Last meal with my girls <3
One of the hardest parts about playing basketball overseas, is that after each season (unless you decide to stay with the same club next year), you have to say a lot of goodbyes. It’s a completely different type of goodbye than saying goodbye to my family and friends before I set out to Europe for the year, because I know I will see those people again. Even writing this is making me tear up, because I know I won’t see my best friend on this team for a long, long time…if ever. That’s a goodbye to someone who I have spent time with every day this year, have had the pleasure of getting to know, and quite honestly, love. That’s a hard goodbye.

I’ve been working on packing up my apartment for the last two days, finishing whatever wine there is left, and thinking about all that I have accomplished these past two seasons and all that is ahead for me. To be honest, by about week two of my busy and overwhelming schedule waiting for me at home, I’m positive I’m going to miss my mid-day naps and getting to watch tons and tons of TV shows I never have time to watch in The States. Yet, what it really boils down to is that I’d rather see my real-life friends over Friends, and my very own Modern Family over the Dunphy’s.

*Thanks to all my readers to for joining me on my journey overseas. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.