As a teenager, I found endless energy for basketball.
I remember spending countless days and evenings in hot gymnasiums with 10-12 other sweaty girls.
We learned plays; we practiced motions, and we worked hard; then we slouched off, laughed and fought. Mostly, we played basketball. And some of us learned about life from some amazing adults that largely volunteered all of their time for us and the sport.
(Big shout out to my Dad, Mr. Glenn, and every other father that dedicated his life and time. Another shout to my mom and the other team moms, Ms. Vickie, Ms. Gloria, Ms. Felicia, and Ms. Repunzel off the top of my head. You didn’t have to but you did. And rest in peace to the best coach of them all: John Sr., You are carried with all of us daily. Forever. Period.
Volunteer to spend time with your kids and their friends. It matters. Long after the gym closes and the lights go out. Long after the championships are worthless. And long after you probably remember as an adult, these kids: They remember. I remember. )
It seems silly when I look back.
I didn’t play first-rate collegiate basketball or
even second rate for that matter.
Still, the lessons from competitive basketball stuck. And many times over life, they have been reinforced.
Let me explain.
I learned a lot in those hot ass gyms all those years ago and it continues to reverberate with me almost 15 years after I hung up my most competitive pair of basketball shoes.
I still rely on the language of the game to get me through life.
And it appears to me on the most random occasions.
I think that the brutal nature of life is hard to understand in this time period. Sports can provide a common/shared language. Controlled competition gives us an arena to exercise our humanity and understand one another.
So here I am, halfway into 2020.
And it is NOTHING like my vision board.
EVERYTHING is JACKED all the way up. I am suddenly homeschooling a toddler, in the midst of a move, and preparing for unforeseen challenges the best that I can.
It is truly a crazy time to be alive.
And comparing my every day to a basketball game might sound absolutely insane.
But hear me out.
I am certainly no longer an athlete.
From the ages of 15-18, if you asked me to play 3+ basketball games a day, i would shrug. No big deal. I breathe basketball.
I am now a 32-year-old mother to a beautiful 3-year-old. Not to mention, I have been in more than one car accident and spent a lot of time in my 20s doing manual labor. Basically, my back perpetually hurts and for good reason. You won’t catch me running games on anyone’s court any time soon…
To make matters worse, all my former teammates are probably reading this laughing. I didn’t really shoot the ball all that much, even when I played. I was a defensive, pass-first point guard. For my non-basketball playing readers, that means I rarely had the ball in my hands to take big shots. I was no one’s Micheal Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
BUT, I often facilitated important plays or made big passes… In reality, it was hardly ever up to me to hit the game-winning shot. That pressure routinely lied elsewhere.
That means I played with some amazing shooters. (Shout out to Jelly, the leftie that could drop 43 points in 20 minutes without breaking a sweat. She was ruthless.)
The game of basketball gave me something.
A framework of sorts.
When I hit my tough times, sometimes, I dream about the game. And maybe it’s a day dream. IDK. Maybe, after watching Lebron James tear the court up, or hearing about Micheal Jordan in his documentary, I just… Daydream me back out onto the court.
Except, it is different from when I actually played.
I am no longer the pass-first defensive point guard.
Now, it’s me shooting the ball.
Somewhere along the way, I figured out, I have to shoot the damn ball.
I know why Steph Curry makes 47.6% of all the shots he takes.
It’s because he has the gall to shoot the damn ball.
Even when it’s not falling.
Sometimes you don’t get make it 30/45 without going 0/15.
Sometimes, all the referees will be against you.
But guess what?
YOU HAVE TO KEEP SHOOTING THE BALL.
They can’t call a foul if you aren’t going UP.
Sometimes, the people on the other team will be TALLER than you. And they will have MORE than you.
At any given moment, it may seem absolutely impossible to see the goal. The defense is swarming and the environment is hostile AF!
BUT GUESS WHAT?
Shoot it anyway.
Make ’em block your shot.
Make her be more than tall to beat you, MAKE her be GOOD.
The lessons are lost on the youth.
As an adult and as an enthusiastic spectator of all sports, I GET it.
I understand now, that the BEST shooters, the best batters, the best boxers, the best drivers, all have one thing in common… They shoot ALL the time.
The BEST shooters, they shoot when the lights are off.
They shoot in the desert.
They shoot at the beach.
The BEST shooters, will find somewhere to put up a shot.
Even when the coach doesn’t get it.
Their teammates are pissed.
Parents are embarrassed.
The fans are booing.
IT DOESN’T MATTER.
I am shooting the ball ANYWAY.
Shoot the fucking ball, fam.
And don’t stop.
The world can be burning down around you.
Everything can be going wrong.
- COVID got your kids and husband at home. Canceled your vacation.
- They still killing black kids. Now you have to protest too.
- They fired you or your position is suddenly gone and no one can explain why or what happened.
- The rioters are literally burning things down.
- Your uncle put his hands on you.
- Your daddy never answers your calls.
- But, your baby mama spending all your money.
- Your probation officer won’t ease up.
- There’s an effing PANDEMIC.
- Going through a divorce?
- Four YOUNG children, and no help.
- You are a single mom and you have a special needs child.
When you are in the game, none of that matters. You have to pay attention to the matter hand.
You have to maintain the focus you need to put up shots.
Shoot the ball. Swing at the next pitch. Jab-Jab-Cross-HOOK.
Whatever sports lingo get you going.
You can’t make JACK shit if you aren’t shooting the ball.
(You definitely can’t hit what you don’t swing it. And you can’t hook when you are afraid to throw that jab.)
Whatever your goals are right now, be the freaking shooter.
Get your body in there and throw up a good shot. Not all shots are created equal, but you can’t make what you ain’t shooting for.
If you feel like you are on the bench in your own game, it’s okay. I know I have been there before.
When the ball comes back to you, find the rhythm, slow down, put your eyes on the rim, and follow-through.
(SHOOT THE DAMN BALL.)
Find the center of your goal, tuck your chin and put your off-hand up, then throw that jab. Follow it with the most fire hook you got. And then sit back and wait for His answer.
I’ma keep it real with you.
((I always strive to.))
You are PROBABLY going to MISS that shot!! 🤣
And you will probably completely bomb on that JAB!!
AND you will certainly STRIKE-OUT more times than you hit the HOMERUN.
It DOESN’T Matter.
Get back on defense.
Sit down and slide your feet. And wait for your next shot because I promise it is coming. (Center yourself. Pray, yoga, realign, re-adjust, and get ready for what is coming next.)
As long as you are blessed with blood in your veins, there’s another shot.
It’s the ultimate Gift God bestowed upon us.
Find the ANGER.
Go FIND THE PASSION.
Figure out the DRIVE.
Find the PURPOSE.
Go find whatever the fuck you need to put up your next shot.
And I promise, as long as the grass is green, and God is King, one of them WILL fall. 🙏🏾
But in order to test my theory….
You have to SHOOT.
Written & Edited By: W.D. Herstun
This has been a tough year. But always remember that the champions are made in the fire. And it is okay if you aren’t cut out for the heat. However. If you have the energy, the ability, or the resources to CHANGE something then now is the TIME. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve been in your inbox. Trust that I am out here grinding with you. And if the basketball/sports lingo is too much for you then don’t worry! Nick Andre has an article that is going to break down the basics of the game of basketball coming soon. It’s a quarantine. What better time to learn something new?
John Kelly Sr. and John Kelly Jr. – one day i will do honor by your names. Coach brought all of us so much. I know I am not the only one that lights a candle in his honor every time I get the chance. And a major shout out to his family.
Anjelica Mealing – where ever you are in life, I hope that you are shooting the ball. I am always rooting for you. Check her out on LinkedIn.
Breonna Taylor – I will write a letter for you every change I get until justice is served. You deserved to live a full life and you did everything you were supposed to in order to earn that. AMERICA took it from you and you from US, but like Sandra, we will NEVER forget. I WILL NEVER FORGET. You mattered, sis. All 24 years of you mattered. Periodt.
Black Lives Matter – Protesters/Rioters/Participants/Activists/Believers – We NEED you. Please keep finding the energy to SHOOT the BALL.
There is a caveat to this. Everyone is not the shooter all the time. And if you find yourself in a position where shooting absolutely isn’t your role, then maybe passing is the best bet. I have amazing passers on my team that are constantly keeping me abreast of what opportunities are available. So, yeah. If you aren’t shooting the ball or aiming for your goals directly then help someone else reach theirs but either way, get in the game!
Details. I am doing what I can to capture the movement on Facebook. This is a two-man band currently, with myself and #NickAndre at the helm. Resources and time are limited. You can donate to the Herstun Writer on CashApp $Herstunwild. Thank you for your time and I hope to have a shop up and running soon.
In the meantime, follow us on www.facebook.com/herstunwild