Why Would I Play THREE Sports in High School?

I play three sports while taking Honors and AP classes as a sophomore.  But let’s start at the beginning. I knew I wanted to play sports at age six, when I watched my brother playing baseball. I never got to be on a team when I was six years old. Let’s be honest here–my dad wasn’t focused on me as a girl.  He couldn’t find a team for me that would play girls at the age of six in Chicago. So, whenever we went to the batting cages I had to bat in the softball cages. This meant that when I came to high school I had no idea how to play anything besides basketball .

I didn’t really play in a league for basketball during my middle school years. There was an annual hoop shooting contest that I won in fifth grade for first place. So, then I moved onto the second round and was eliminated and got second place. But in sixth grade I was unable to  do it as I had some family problems. Although my then-gym teacher Coach Chambers coached a high school girls basketball team on the side. So, occasionally when we played basketball he would try to teach me new tricks and how to do stuff. Then during my eighth grade year there was the annual  seventh vs Eighth basketball game. Of course my team won, as we had another girl about 5`11! So when I tried out for  Lake View’s basketball team I had some experience.  Still I needed to work on my handles a lot during my freshman year and I did off-clock work with my dad.

My softball coach, Coach Fronczak and Coach Ken took a chance on me last year during my freshman year, in my opinion.  Because I had no idea how to catch a ball ! (Just ask any of the girls on the team–they’ll tell you!) I didn’t even know how to break in my first glove.  Still I kept on playing and practicing with the team throughout my freshman year and well into summer; I even played Summer League. I improved a lot, to be honest If not just physically as a player but mentally as well. 

One example:  I played outfield the day before my 16th birthday. We had a game and I was in left field when the batter hit a fly ball right to me and I caught it. But the next game I didn’t back up first and second when I needed to numerous times. Instead of sulking I reflected on what I had learned: that everything in the game isn’t always going to go perfectly, and that no one is going to be the perfect player every game. Though you can be the best that you can be in your head,you have to be willing to put in the time and effort on the field or court. When I play it’s because it’s fun to do something that I believe I’m going to do well in–and even if I don’t do well in it I am going to keep trying. All coaches want from their players is for them to actually give some effort and not just  “play” around with their potential. 

I didn’t play volleyball during my freshman year, so, when I tried out for the team  sophomore year I didn’t really expect to make it. I put in the effort during tryouts, though, which showed how much I wanted to be there,with which I made the team. I’ve been on the basketball team since freshman year as well as softball. I took on volleyball simply because I took an interest in the sport and it looked like fun. I understand all the sports I play may not appeal to everyone in the world; for some people, softball’s boring. Then there are some people who say volleyball is boring and even some people who say that basketball is boring !  It all depends on your opinion and on what you find interesting to do in your free time. 

So that’s the main reason I play three sports in high school—-because I couldn’t do it when I was younger. But even if I had been playing them all since I was a little girl, I would still be doing them now. Because it’s not for the resume, or to get into a college.  I play because I WANT to play–and if I make it and become a professional athlete that will just be icing on a cake I already enjoy eating! Right now I’m focused on making myself the best player I can, while keeping up as well with my challenging studies. Meanwhile, reflections like this one on my past actions as I work towards my future can really help build my character and my skills–both as a player and a person off the playing field and court.

Matea Thomas