A handful of years ago, two little girls in baggy shorts way past their knees stood at the painted-on free throw line of a driveway.
“This is for the state championship,” one said to the other.
This was a typical scenario for the two.
Fast forward many years later. These two girls stood face to face, in red and gold, down two points and at the free throw line. It didn’t have to be said. Although the court was shinier, there were thousands of people around and the pressure was more real than ever.
The girls stood together in that same moment.
Someday, we might look back at the outcome of that game and smile. No matter what, there always will be one thing for certain: that’s what dreams are all about.
The 2016-17 Marion girls’ basketball season didn’t get its storybook ending. That doesn’t mean it didn’t feel like a fairy-tale.
This was the second year in a row I had to watch the clock strike zero with a heavy heart.
On the day of the sate championship, I woke up with a smile on my face and looked over at my best friend. It had been a long week of hotel rooms and close games, but we’d been through it all together.
We’d been through it all to get the privilege to play our hearts out on the 118th day.
And on that day, walking into the arena, the result was all I had in mind. Holding up the championship trophy in front of a proud community has been our shared dream for as long as we can remember.
As a kid, they always tell you to write down goals, have dreams, reach a little higher. Looking past the screaming students and the anxious parents, one sees the little girls sitting in the stands. They have wide eyes and dreams they hold onto.
When I see them, I see me. I see Chloe Rice. I see what we all used to be.
The excitement of the moment was unreal. The very last game was 32 minutes to cherish forever.
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After the overtime buzzer sounded, as the referee was about to hand me the ball to throw in, he stopped.
“Are you having fun, 21?” he said.
“Of course. This is the place you want to be,” I said.
And I didn’t hesitate — not for a second.
Was it hard to console my little sister, Kayba, as she was crying, experiencing her first let down? Yes. Is not winning the coveted state title disappointing? A thousand times, yes.
But there’s a moment I have to stop and think. There’s always a risk of disappointment when you believe in the hours of work you put in, believe in your team and believe in a dream.
No matter what, I will have these wonderful memories with a group I call family. And I will get one more chance.
I will get one more year to look back at that little girl in the driveway and tell her to never give up. To stand at that free throw line, give it her best shot and never, ever look back.
It’s amazing, the places you find yourself when all you start with is a dream.