College Athletics: Staying there…

Following up from a previous post, College Athletics: Getting there… (check it out if you haven’t already – https://thasmoothedge.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/college-getting-there/), it’s time to focus on the other portion of being a college athlete – staying there!

Contrary to popular belief, remaining at a university and actually experiencing success has little to do with basketball and more to do with intangibles. Every time you hear about an athlete getting “released” or “suspended for not upholding team standards”, it’s rarely ever because they turned the ball over too many times. If that was the case, I would have been kicked out of Vanderbilt after my first practice! Regardless, some may see this concept as uncanny, but it’s all relevant. The reason I say that is because the better you are at the little things, everything else will just begin to fall into place. Some of the factors listed below have been discussed numerous times, I’m sure, but they truly are the keys to success.

  • Grow, young beanstalk!

    While your parents may still see you as their little baby, it’s time to grow up and mature. In the process of maturing, you will learn how to do two things: take responsibility and take initiative. Since you are a college athlete, the coaches and support staff members are going to expect you to take responsibility for your schedule, mistakes, and any other breadcrumbs that could lead back to you when the day is done. It is common to blame situations on things that are trivial and insignificant. When you are in the wrong, just admit the fact that you didn’t do what you were supposed to do, accept the consequence, and learn from it. Here’s where it gets tricky: you may have to do that even when you aren’t in the wrong! Coaches respect players more when they just accept the fact that they messed up. Always remember that mistakes are just data, and guess what – you’ll make a lot while you’re there, so take notes.

    While taking initiative is similar to taking responsibility, the difference lies in the timing of events. For example, if you took the initiative to be early to a workout, you will not have to worry about taking responsibility for being late. To me, initiative is mostly about seeking clarification and having uncomfortable conversations. During my final season at Vandy, I went from the starting point guard to the starting shooting guard to the starting stretch four and then back to the point guard position, but coming off of the bench. Confusion was an understatement, but instead of becoming frustrated with my coach’s decisions, I took the initiative to schedule a meeting with her to really get a solid understanding of what she expected of me. Yes, it was uncomfortable and intimidating, but I was perfectly aware of the fact that my role as a senior on the team was to fill in wherever, whenever the team needed me to. Don’t be afraid to seek clarification or confirmation, and don’t take anything that is said, in practice or otherwise, personally. A lack of communication leaves too much room for the imagination.

  • Anybody got the time?

    Time management has never been more pertinent until you become both a full-time student as well as a full-time athlete. As a freshman, it took me a long time to realize that I was expected to do everything the regular students were doing while also attending morning workouts, getting up extra shots with a teammate, extra films sessions with my coaches, log all of my study hall hours each week, and wait! Am I supposed to be able to do all of this at once? Everyday? Yes. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! What is the most important thing that I need to do right now? Start on a paper or go out with friends? Read excerpts for my quiz tomorrow or scroll down my Inman-graphic-overwhelmed-onwhite-420x343stagram feed?

    Pack healthy, on-the-go snacks (Seriously, you haven’t experienced a real dilemma until you have to choose between a nap and a meal) and get your work done on time. Many professors do not care that you will be traveling and will possibly be missing a whole week of class. You are expected to turn in quality work on the given due date like everyone else, so excuses are invalid when ‘academic ineligibility’ enters the room.

  • Extra, extra! Read all about it.

    This topic pertains to two things: actually doing extra and maintaining a social media status that represents not only your own brand but the brand of your university.

    As an incoming freshman, you have not achieved anything in a college uniform; therefore, you ought not to act like you have. As a freshman, you have to take control of how quickly and smoothly you adjust to being a collegiate student-athlete. In order to do that, you need to hurdle the learning curve and doing extra will help. extra-1Get up extra shots, watch extra film with your position coach, spend extra time in the gym with a teammate that may not understand the plays as well as you [or vice versa]. Doing only what is mandated of you will never be enough and it will impede your path to success if you only make time for the bare minimum.

    Switching gears into the social media domain; I cannot stress the vitality of this enough. We live in a day and age where almost everything revolves around technology and the modes that we use to communicate with one another. CNN reported that teens spend at least 9 hours on social media every day, which is amazing because if you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep, you’re only awake for 15-16 of those hours. So technically, we are using every other waking hour in a virtual world. There are a lot of videos, pictures and thoughts that we may think are funny and worth sharing, but most of the time, they’re not. Once you arrive at your respective university, you become a representative of your university. There will be fans and administrators all watching you, whether you think they are or not. What you say, show, and even retweet matters and can negatively impact not only yourself, but your fellow athletes and university too.

  • Mindfulness

    After you’ve woken up for a morning lift at 6am, made it to your first class that starts at 8am until your last class that ends at 1pm, went to practice that lasted from 2:30pm-5:30pm, then lollygagged to study hall from 7:00pm to 9:30/10:00pm, the first thing you want to do when you get back to your dorm is to press your face into your plush pillow. We all know your pillow is a regular cotton pillow, but it feels plush after the day you’ve had. However, you mustn’t begin the ‘rinse, wash, and repeat’ cycle. Mindfulness is the simple act of acknowledging one’s feelings and thoughts in a therapeutic manner. Slow down to smell the roses, actually taste your food when you eat, take the time to stretch, drink you water, call your mother, but before anything else, stay within yourself. These small tasks may not seem like much but can make a world of difference if done consistently.

  • The Red Pill

    Is everyone familiar with the blue and red pill example from the movie, The Matrix? The blue pill ends the story and the red pill keeps you in ‘Wonderland’. You are a collegiate student-athlete, so you have taken the red pill. morpheusCollege is all about distractions in literally every dimension of your life, whether it be your social life, personal/private life, or athletic life. Peer pressure is a real thing and everyone wants to fit in. But again, what are you willing to do to separate yourself? Yes, you want to go do activities that the regular students are doing, but you didn’t choose the ‘regular student life’. You have different obligations and different opportunities; therefore, you 
    need to have a different type of focus.
     
  • You can do it!

    I’m ending on ‘belief in yourself’ because it is the most important piece of advice I can offer. While being in college will give you some of your most memorable moments, it will also deal out some of your most trying times. Humble yourself within the process, but never mistake modesty for dubiety. Some players become so modest that they truly begin to doubt who they are and what they are capable of. Yes, you will make mistakes and you will fail, time and time again, but remember: you were recruited for a reason.

There was a lot of information given, so if you can’t remember anything else, just know that hard work and details are always an equalizer. Keep your nose clean, literally and figuratively. Lastly, as the great Woodrow Wilson said, “You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

 

National Depression and Anxiety Day

** A blog made in 2015 from a previously owned blog.

“She was trapped in a maze of incomprehensible pain and heartbreak. Completely and irrevocably alone in a maze of mirrors reflecting her every shortcoming, indiscretion, sin, and inequity. Projected on every millimeter of every wall was a reminder that she would never find her way out.”

-Valencia Clement


Imagine being in a glass case that is as wide as your wingspan. There is a hose that is releasing water at a neck-breaking pace. With each inhalation, water continues to rise. Higher and higher. There’s no way out and your mind is clouded because you can only think about your inevitable death.

Imagine wearing a pair of sunglasses 24/7 that you’re not allowed to take off. Not by choice, but by obligation. Your whole day is dark, even when the sun is out. Even when people are smiling.

Imagine being in a nightmare. You’re running down the street, panting and sweating profusely. You’re trying to escape something, but you can’t quite make out what it is that you’re running from. You open your mouth to scream for help, but nothing comes out. You open your mouth again – nothing. No help.

Imagine having the worse day you could possibly have. Now imagine that same day, but with the realization that this bad day is actually a good day for you and that the days you await will be worse.

Today, May 10th, concludes a week that is very near and dear to my heart – National Depression and Anxiety Week. Some individuals chose to celebrate it, some did not. However, I’m going to discuss why this week in particular should matter to everyone – not just for this week, but for everyday, hereafter. 

Hi, I’m Jasmine Jenkins and I am depressed.

As a sufferer of depression, I am able fathom the immensity of the distress that all victims of anxiety and depression cope with. I was officially diagnosed with depression only about 6 months ago, but am more than positive that I have been a victim ever since I was a young teenager. Growing up, I was always told: “What goes on in this house, stays in this house”, “Be tough”, “A psychiatrist? You mean, a shrink?”. When hearing all of this, I was subliminally conditioned to believe that it was not acceptable to not be okay. I was able to master the act of a big, fake smile and passive aggression. Not knowing how to cope with my emotional baggage, I would take it out on my siblings and friends. I fought, I cursed, I smoke, I drank, and I rebelled. I assumed that if everyone saw how cool I was, then no one would see my sadness and anger. This continued throughout the course of my middle and high school career.

Wipe your tears, puff your chest, push your chin up, and keep it moving.

It wasn’t until my freshmen year in college where I could no longer hide from my emotional/mental shortcomings. As a top-tier athlete, it is literally a full-time job that requires both mental and physical stability. Your day consists of class, study hall, weightlifting, conditioning, and practices. Without focus and the will to carry out these tasks, your days were arduous. As a freshman, I had midterm deficiencies, I had been suspended for a game due to a violation of team rules, and I made my first attempt at suicide. I had nothing to live for and everything to die for. I constantly heard thousands of voices, showcasing my deficiencies as a human.

You’re nothing, you might as well just die. You’ll never be good at basketball. You’ll never pass that class. You might as well just quit. Your teeth are so ugly. No one loves you. You are so lazy. You’ll never be fit enough. Success will never come to you. You don’t deserve it. 

For almost every day of my life since I was 10, I experienced flaws, imperfections, and failures being crowded at the forefront of my mind. I became numb and drew further into my shell, into my nightmare. Even the simplest tasks were difficult to do. Showering, brushing my teeth, eating, tying my shoe, answering my phone, checking my text messages, smiling – living. This state that I was living in had disturbed my whole being.

I can’t remember how many times I have attempted suicide. I don’t know which scars are from cutting anymore. I can’t remember the amount of times I reminded myself where my dad kept his hunting rifles. What I do know is that I have finally realized, after ten years, that I desperately needed help. For that, I am liberated.

Why does this matter to people without depression?

  1. As individuals in society, we have coupled sufferers of mental illnesses with weakness and vulnerability. We must stop advocating for the idea that asking for help or guidance is for the weak. Because of labels floating around, victims of depression and anxiety refuse to seek help because they think they are being strong by not doing so. Help is colorblind, genderless, and isn’t biased to a specific group. By eliminating the stigmas, we subconsciously allow individuals to feel better about seeking help.
  2. Victims of depression and anxiety are usually coined as lazy whiners who need to stop wallowing in self-pity. “How can I feel bad or help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves?” We must understand that depression is like an addiction. While we are all aware that it exists, it is almost as if we find comfort in the emptiness. While there isn’t any happiness, there also isn’t failure. There is a difference between laziness and depression. Laziness can be felt while still feeling pleasure and happiness. Depression consumes every aspect of your life, including emotions. Laziness can be fixed with discipline, while depression cannot.

Eliminate the stigma. Make it okay to not be okay. 

What can you do if you think you’re suffering from depression or anxiety?

  1. Be not ashamed. Admit that you have depression or anxiety. As a sufferer, admitting is half of the battle. There are many different types of depressions, causes, and treatments, but none of that matters unless you are courageous enough to admit that you have it.
  2. Seek help. If you find yourself in a serious depressive episode and the matter is urgent, there are helplines: 630-482-9696 or 800-273-8255.
  3. Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can.

Pay it forward.

Nostalgic Mistakes

** A post made in 2015 from a previously owned blog

Recently, I ran into my old language teacher, and he randomly asked if I was still writing as much as I did in high school. Ashamedly, I told him that I didn’t have enough time, and that my schedule didn’t permit it. What an excuse. So here I am – trying to spark my creative juices again. Happy blogging, right?

Within the last year, I was contacted by my alma mater because they are starting a new phenomenon called, The Wall of Fame. The Wall of Fame consists of alumni that have graduated and gone off to do great things. Since I was one of the few that was able to leave the small town of Gainesville, Ga and attend a division 1 school where I also play basketball, I suppose I was one of the privileged ones to be a part of this new endeavor. In part of being on the Wall of Fame, I was directed to create a video that would be shown to the kids. It could be about anything I wanted it to be about.

When I was approached with this opportunity, I was extremely excited about it. However, I struggled with what I wanted to share with them. I wanted to share something significant, impactful, but also relatable, which I found was especially difficult. I think it’s safe to say that everyone is going through something different in their lives. In order to relate to the kids that would be watching this video, I felt as if my path to success was completely irrelevant. I even questioned – how could we even consider one specific/certain path successful? Does everyone hold the same criterion for success? Anyhow, focusing on the children more than myself, I decided to talk about the three mistakes that I unknowingly made in grade school and how they can be remedied.

  • I spent too much time and energy on what other people thought of me

I was so consumed with what my friends thought of me. Was I fit enough? Was I smart enough? Was I wealthy enough? Was my hair too curly or too straight?

If someone was to tell you to jot down everything you love, how long would it take before you listed yourself?

It has taken me years, to realize that my self-worth – your self-worth, your mother’s self-worth – anyone’s self-worth is not dependent or reliant on anyone’s acceptance or approval. Along with this, I have learned that you cannot impact the world if you spend your time trying to be like it.

  •  I didn’t say thank you enough.

For whatever reason, I felt that anytime anyone did anything for me – I deserved it. I felt entitled, but little did I know that no one does anything out of obligation. For example, I would drop a piece of paper in the hallway because that’s their job. That’s what janitors are there for, right?

Wrong.

To live life without showing individuals that they are appreciated should be an abomination! Yes, people have jobs with certain tasks that they need to carry out, but by no means are they obligated to go the extra mile to make your experience comfortable without any appreciation. This concept is not limited to employees, but also to your family and peers.

  • I complained way too much about things that will never matter. 

Why do I have to go to school today? I hate school. Ms. Such and Such is so lame – she gives us way too much homework on the weekends. I have to go do these stupid pushups for the fitness test – I hope I pass.

One of my favorite poets, Rudy Francisco, had a verse in his poem called, “Complainers”, that said: “How blessed are we to have tragedies so small that they are able to fit on the tips of our tongues.”

How blessed are we that the only things we have to complain about is how hot it is, or how bad the tag in the back of our shirts makes our necks itch. It’s a really hard knock life we have to live, huh?

So how can we remedy these mistakes? Very simply.

  1. Take a pen and a sticky note (or multiple, if you insist). Write down the phrase, “I am enough”. Post this sticky note where you will see it everyday. I have a sticky note posted on the back on my phone, on my mirrors, my backpacks, and on random pages in different books I read. By reminding yourself that you are enough, it should be like an instant confidence booster. You are indeed enough, dear.
  2. Treat people well and remind yourself that kindness does not cost a thing. Kindness is free. Tell someone thank you and let them know that you appreciate what they do for you. The smallest gestures of appreciation can make the world a different place.
  3. Lastly, change your “have to’s” to “get to’s”. Instead of saying, I have to go to school today. Say, I get to go to school today. It makes all the difference to realize that the things you are doing are privileges and not obligations.

  

Complain less, appreciate people, and love yourself. Make the world a better place.

Perspective Through a Teardrop

*A post made in 2015 from a previously owned blog

Have you ever been watching television and experienced that moment of superficial sadness whenever you see that someone was smashed in a tragic accident? Or when you see someone was shot and killed? How about when you see live testimonials from missing persons who somehow escaped their inevitable death and made it out to tell their story? I have. I always look at the television and just think to myself, “Gee, that is so sad. I literally couldn’t even imagine that happening to myself or someone I actually know”. I find that although I’m trying to be as empathetic as possible, it doesn’t really make a difference in my life. Why should it matter? 

I was sitting in my dorm on a Thursday night, typing up a paper that was due on the following Monday. I remember being so stressed because the paper that I was typing was just one of the four. I had my phone on Do Not Disturb mode because everything that I was doing at that time needed to be finished in a timely manner. For some odd reason, I decided to look at my phone. Luckily for me, I looked just in time to see that my teammate was calling me.

I yelled in excitement simply because everyone was coming back from the May break. I hadn’t seen my beautiful teammates in over a month!

Me“What’s up, Mappie!”

Marqu’es“Jay.”

Though she only said one word, I immediately shifted my mood because her stiff tone told me something wasn’t right.

Me“What’s going on? What’s wrong? Talk to me.”

I was having a hard time controlling my emotions. I wanted to know what was happening so badly. I wanted to help in any way I could. I wanted to be there for my teammate.

Marqu’es: “Jay. Dai-Jon died, Jay. I don’t even know what’s going on. Bekah called me and she was hysterical. I’m shaking right now. I don’t know, Jay. I just don’t know. I am going to call Coach. Tell the girls. Bekah needs us.”

In this moment, Marqu’es was speaking so quickly, it was almost incoherent. Although she was speaking fast, everything slowed down for me. I stopped typing because my project suddenly seemed to shrink underneath my fingertips. My vision almost seemed delayed. I tried panning the room, but nothing seemed to appear on time. I could feel my palms sweating and my heart starting to patter. Goosebumps scaled my skin, and my head felt so heavy on my shoulders.

Me“Wait. What? Stop playing. That isn’t funny, man. Stop playing. For real. Don’t joke about stuff like that.”

Marqu’es: “Jay, I’m dead ass serious. I’m not joking. Dai-Jon died. In a boating accident. I think he drowned. Bekah needs us. I have to call coach. Let the girls know now. I’ll call you back in 20 minutes.”


When Marqu’es said she would call me back, I dropped my phone and my body went numb. What am I supposed to think about right now? What do I do? Who do I call? Who needs to know about this? How can I make things easier for Bekah right now? How do I tell the girls? How do I answer all of these questions?!

The fact of the matter was – I didn’t know the answer to any of them, nor did I know any processes I could go through to answer them. I froze.


Although I did not know what to do when I received this terrible news, one thing I did know is that every single moment of my life flashed before my eyes. Every. Single. Moment. It was almost as if my entire life was being shown in a slide show that was scrolling across my brain. I was no longer watching this tragic story on television. I was given a front row seat with stale popcorn and flat soda to one of the most tragic things I’ve witnessed in my 20 years of living, and I wanted my money back.

I was so ashamed of what I had missed. I recalled joking around with Dai-Jon about how he looked like Oscar off of Car Wash. Everyone scoffed at his dreams of being drafted. I did not bother to ask anyone how his transferring process went when he left Vanderbilt. I did not bother to see how his season went. Was he doing well? I didn’t know. It didn’t directly affect my life, so what difference should it have made?

Within the next hour or so of the news leaking that our dear friend had passed, his name was plastered all over social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. In the grand scheme of things, while the support is so beautiful and necessary for his family to see how loved Dai-Jon was, none of it mattered. Those tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram posts – my blog – none of it matters anymore.

During my disturbing moment of realization, I made a vow to myself.

I vowed to do something that scares me everyday because life is too short to play it safe.
I vowed to forgive more because grudges only fester.
I vowed to be unapologetic about what I believe in.
I vowed to love furiously.
I vowed to fail in flames of glory. Go down kicking and screaming. Be an alley cat.
I vowed to believe in myself more.
I vowed to tell people how I feel about them because a stupid tweet just won’t suffice after we’re gone.
I vowed to feel more.
I vowed to get shit done.
I vowed to encourage people in their dreams no matter how big or small they may seem.

I made a vow to live my life the way I intended – no matter how difficult the circumstances become. 


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This loss is being felt, especially in the Vanderbilt Community. Once a ‘dore, always a ‘dore. Everyone knew Dai-Jon and loved his energy. It was almost as if his aura was like a B-12 shot that was being administered to the wind that swept up those surrounding him. Although I did not know Dai-Jon as well as others, I do know how he made my teammate feel. She spoke of him in high regard with stars in her eyes, no matter what their circumstances were. Her love for him was undeniably pure. That was good enough for me. Easy does it, Dai-Jon.  

College Athletics: Getting there…

Disclaimer: Basketball Specific

As a 17 year old, there were a lot of things that I did not think of while I was choosing which school I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. I am extremely proud to tell people that I am Vanderbilt alum. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in this world, and I bleed black and gold until the day I die. However, I do believe if I would have paid closer attention to certain details that seemed so arbitrary 5 years ago, I would have had a better fit. As we move into a quiet period after two weekends of evaluation and exposure, I felt as if this was a perfect time to discuss factors that kids don’t think about. Below is a consolidated list of intellectual tidbits that my friends and I hope lend a helping hand to those looking to make a decision soon. 

  1. Philosophy
    • What is the coach’s philosophy and does this philosophy fit your natural playing style?

Throughout travel and high school basketball, there was one thing that was very consistent; the playing style. As a point guard, my game was predicated on breaking down defenses in transition and creating off-the-dribble. I was undeniably fruitful in both settings because my coaches relished in uptempo games. There were ample opportunities for four-low isolations, random screen-and-rolls, as well as impromptu clear-outs whenever there was a mismatch. When I first arrived at Vanderbilt, my coach and I experienced a few tiffs simply because I felt that I was being put in a box. It took me a while to realize that the offense was meticulously designed to work for the players. No one needed to create anything because if the offense was ran effectively, it would create all that we needed. Before I learned how to actually run and conduct such a complex offense, I was unhappy. I was not able to play the way that was most comfortable for me, but after research and a few conversations, I learned that the offense and philosophy that I felt was extraneous had been perfected to a tee and was successful, years before I even arrived. So in order for me to succeed, I would have to adjust accordingly. 

     2. Work, work, work, work, work

Every player needs to sit and seriously ask themselves: What am I willing to sacrifice? What am I willing to give to my future teammates and program?

It is no secret that there are different levels for different skill-sets. However, what isn’t discussed much is that there are also different levels for different work ethics. Motivational speaker, Eric Thomas, says, Don’t let your talent take you somewhere your character can’t keep you. This rings true for college athletics. Coming out of high school, I would say that I was an average player and athlete with exceptional leadership/communication skills and work ethic. It also helped that I was ultra competitive. Everyday I woke up, I was determined to get better at something, no matter how minute it seemed to outsiders. Because of my blue collar approach, I was fortunate enough to play for four years in one of the best conferences in women’s basketball. 

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Yes, college basketball can be fun, but never forget that it is a business first. You, the player, can determine what type of food your coaches are eating at the end of the day. Without performance and production, your coaches lose money and opportunities, so what makes you feel as if they are willing to accept mediocrity in any dimension of college basketball? Too many times, talented players are left behind and buried in the bench because they are not willing to work and improve certain aspects of their game that will benefit the team the most. Those same talented players make amends by transferring to schools that do not take college women’s basketball serious. Need I mention that they are wildly successful at those levels? Save yourself the trouble of transferring by being honest with YOU. Talent can only get you so far. Work ethic keeps you there. 

    3. Seeking Approval

Approval has become paramount in modern-day society. From our Instagram posts to the newest pair of shoes we own, we are constantly seeking approval from our family and “friends”. For example, how many tweets and IG posts did everyone see, within the last week, of the Views and Lemonade albums? Spoiler alert: about 97% of the population that tweeted just want to show their friends that they are up-to-date with the newest, hottest music.

6962664528_bb5cedb932_oRelating this back to basketball, most athletes commit to a school just because their reputation is popular, or because their mother or father graduated from there. They want their friends to say, “Oh! Look at Jane Doe! She’s going to So-and-So University! I wish I could go there too”! Truth be told, only a select few can actually perform and succeed at the universities that everyone reads about in the papers or see on television. Do not choose a school based on its popularity, because that is one sure-fire way to bamboozle yourself into a whirlpool of unhappiness. 

    4. Majors are Major!

You have a hoop dream, too? Good for you, but what other ways are you going to contribute to society? What do you have a passion for? 

I am not the one to kill anyone’s athletic dreams. Whoever you are, I am in your corner 3,844%, but I have to give you the facts. Below is an excerpt from the article, What Are Your Odds of Making the Pros? (http://www.norwichcsd.org/Downloads/ProSportsOdds.doc):

Men’s Basketball

— High school senior players who go on to play NCAA men`s basketball: Less than one in 35, or 2.9 percent.

— NCAA senior players drafted by an NBA team: Less than one in 75, or 1.3 percent.

Women`s Basketball

— High school senior players who go on to play NCAA women’s basketball: About three in 100, or 3.1 percent.

— NCAA senior players drafted by a WNBA team: About one in 100, or 1.0 percent.

— High school senior players eventually drafted by a WNBA team: About one in 5,000, or 0.02 percent.

With percentages so low, I would strongly advise you all to truly consider what you are passionate about and what that could look like in terms of a major. Then ask yourself, does So-and-So University have this major? You do not want to go to a university for their athletic program, knowingly neglecting your education and passions, end up studying something you hate that could eventually lead to a job that you hate even more. 

    5. Teammates Matter

Do you and your future teammates share some of the same beliefs and values? Do you see yourself enjoying time with them outside of basketball? What players are returning and what positions are they playing? Coming out of high school, I did not pay attention to who was returning to Vanderbilt from the years before. You can imagine my surprise when I realized that it did not matter what my ranking was on ESPN Hoopgurlz because I was playing behind two WNBA draft picks in Jasmine Lister (Seattle Storm Training Camp, 2014 and LA Sparks, 2015-16) and Christina Foggie (Minnesota Lynx Training Camp, 2014). It took me awhile to adjust my mindset and begin learning from the players that were ahead of me. 

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By the same token, it is vital to consider the personalities of the team. Contrary to popular belief, success in college basketball, for women especially, is highly determined by the chemistry the team has, both on and off the court. I was lucky enough to get paired with some teammates who have turned into my best friends.

This is not to be misunderstood, though. You will not always get along/agree with your teammates and you do not always need to be best friends. There are just some people and personalities that will not mesh. This fact is fine as long as you are able to respect one another and do what is in the team’s best interest.

Going Forward…

I do not claim to know everything there is to know about choosing a school. Everyone’s recruiting process is unique, and so reality and perceptions differ. All in all, accept nothing at face value and refuse to settle.
Make this week unforgettable. 

Check back next week for College Athletics: Staying There…