A Players Perspective

 In Players

A player’s perspective: 5 years with the Stars,
by Sydney Carter

How to ignore nervousness, how to play my best when I didn’t feel like it, how to lose a game and still feel ok about it, how long I can go without texting—just a few of the things I learned playing with the Ottawa Shooting Stars.

The first year I tried out for the Shooting Stars, I was in the sixth grade. I remember being terrified, standing in that gym with thirteen other girls beside me. At the time, I had not realized that my height alone had already guaranteed me a spot on the team despite the fact that I showed up in sneakers. It was the first time I had ever played basketball formally and as intimidating a thought as it was, by the end of the try out I had already forgotten my fears. In an hour and a half, the three coaches had managed to learn each of our names and the schools we went to. They made jokes with us and let us play games as well as drills.

When I got the call that I had made the team, the nerves made their way back into my head. I didn’t know what to expect, but of course the practices ended up being even more fun than the tryouts. Our first game of the season was a disaster. We lost 2-30. Although the game (and the rest of the tournament) had an atrocious outcome, our coaches didn’t seem to mind. They went out of their way to say at least one good thing each of us did at practice that Monday, turning what we thought was an utter failure into somewhat of a success. The first year I tried out for the Shooting Stars, I learned how to do a lay-up, how to work with other girls and I wore my team jersey to school at least once a week.

The second year I tried out for the Shooting Stars, it was like starting all over. I had to move up an age bracket resulting in new girls, new coaches and new nerves. It was scary being the youngest on the team. Although I was no longer the tallest player and couldn’t do the best lay-up, I had more fun than ever.

That year I made friends that to this day I can’t help but hug when I see them at a tournament even though they no longer play for the OSS. I learned what it was like to play competitively, to feel the pressure to succeed not only for yourself but also for your teammates. We all worked our hardest for each other and that’s what made us such a close team. The second year I tried out for the Shooting Stars, I made friends that made me push myself to get better.

The third and fourth years I tried out for the Shooting Stars, I had fallen into a rut. Of course, as you age, your priorities change. I no longer wanted to spend my weekends in gyms and on long car rides. I wanted to be with my school friends. Practices became tedious, and just the thought of having to wake up before eight o’clock on a Saturday was exhausting in itself. My resentment towards basketball did not go unnoticed. By the end of my fourth season, I had promised myself it was my last.

But of course, it wasn’t.

A few months later, I found myself standing in a gym with fifty girls, ready to try out for my fifth year playing basketball, thanks to the undeniable support system offered by the club. The third and fourth years I tried out for the Shooting Stars, I saw how encouraging the club really was. If it weren’t for all my coaches, teammates and my family supporting me, I would never have picked up a basketball again.

The fifth year I tried out for the Shooting Stars was my best yet. I learned and developed as an athlete more than ever. Not only did my physical skills improve but I also learned more about leadership and teamwork than any other year. Having a very competitive coach allowed me to see the importance of doing my best and helped me find the drive I used to have while playing basketball. The fifth year I tried out for the Shooting Stars was the year I gained confidence in my abilities and rediscovered my love for the sport.

The Ottawa Shooting Stars has helped me develop and grow as an athlete, friend and individual. Over the course of the five years I played, I have learned so much and I’m looking forward to continue my journey with this club. I’m grateful for everything The OSS has offered me and I hope to repay them with the time, emotion and effort I put into my game.