Competitive sports have always been a part of my life. By the time I was five I was into rec soccer and then my 6th grade year I joined the cross country team on top of that. When I got into seventh grade I stopped playing soccer, stopped running cross and I started playing basketball. Basketball lasted through my sophomore year of high school until I found jiu jitsu a few weeks after the season ended. That’s my basic story, but it doesn’t explain much. From the sound of it, I joined a bunch of sports, tried them, stuck it out for a bit, and then quit. But that’s not how it happened. I liked one sport and then as opportunities presented themselves, I discovered new sports that I loved even more.
It all started with my first crush, soccer. The fall after I turned five I joined our local soccer organization without any idea of what to expect. Putting a little kid in a sport for the first time you have no idea what could happen or if they will like it. I turned out liking it, a lot. Within the next couple years we got a full sized goal in my backyard, cut the grass, and painted the lines so I could play whenever I wanted. I would go outside and shoot around with my dad during the season to put in a little extra work. Goalie ended up being the position that stuck. I discovered that I could be aggressive and take girls out without getting a carded and stuck on the sidelines like I did when I was actually out on the field. I was the only one in my rec league as a ten year old to get card that season. I played soccer for eight years. I liked being out on the field with friends that I made and I liked the challenge that it brought to me. I loved the aggression, the rush that came with it all. I stuck with soccer until I discovered and fell in love with basketball.
Growing up, my dad was a high school basketball coach. Because of that I was in the gym a lot. I would get water for all the high school girls during games and I eventually learned how to take stats, but I wanted nothing to do with actually touching the ball. I liked soccer and that was good enough for me. That was until I actually caved and got a ball in my hands. From that moment, something clicked. I eventually let my dad help me with my shot and some dribbling drills. My seventh grade year was when I decided to stop playing soccer. My heart just wasn’t in it anymore, because I wanted to be playing basketball all the time, so that’s what I did. My middle school years were a little rough. Even with all the knowledge I had, at that point my body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to and at the very least you could say it was frustrating, but I loved basketball. I was the girl out on the floor diving for every ball, boxing out hard, and lets face it, fouling out of almost every game. My freshman year was better, but not everything was there. I put in the off season work, as long as it wasn’t conditioning, and I did everything I could for my team. I quickly found out that in a team sport, individual effort wasn’t enough. Everyone on that team has to work as hard as their hardest worker in order for everyone to be at that level. But not everyone wanted it as badly as I did. I thought I wanted to be the best and I definitely wanted to win games. I wanted those things more than I had ever wanted anything and I worked harder than I ever had to try and accomplish them. I had tossed around going to AAU leagues where girls were more serious, but I wasn’t sure if that was what I really wanted anymore. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to even play anymore. I loved the game, I loved the competition, the aggression, almost everything, something just wasn’t there. I prayed a lot, talked things through with my parents, and just really thought about things and I wasn’t sure it was for me anymore. I decided I would wait until the next season to actually make a decision. Then that decision got made for me.
That’s when I found jiu jitsu, my one true love! About the time I was 12 I had begged my parents to get me involved in jiu jitsu, kickboxing, something MMA related. I loved watching the fights on TV and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I asked periodically every couple months, but my mom always answered with no. When I was 16 we found a nearby gym with an instructor that said he would take me, a young girl that had no previous experience in any combat sport or martial art, on. I’m so thankful that he did. From the first moment I stepped on the mat I knew this is where I was meant to be and this is where I’m going to stay, married to the game. Jiu Jitsu has everything in it that I liked about all the other sports I played. Its a challenge, it pushes me mentally and physically, its aggressive, its competitive, and its all on me. If I want to be great, I alone have to put in the work in order to do that and I will.
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