“If you ever dreamed of playing
for millions around the world,
Now is your chance.
Play inside, play for the world.”
As a young kid, I spent hours alone in my driveway as I dreamed of playing in front of packed stadiums or on national television. Thousands of times, I rehearsed the final seconds of a game. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…” before launching the game-winning shot! When the weather turned too cold or rainy, I took my ball into the garage or the basement and continued working on my craft. I was often alone.
As a high schooler, I went to the local YMCA every day after school. An old, dusty and dark facility, the floors were worn and backboards cracked. Therefore, company was rare except for a buddy who’d join at times. No coach, no trainer, no music — just a ball. It was all I needed and the perfect environment for me to improve my game. I was often alone.
As a collegiate and professional athlete, coaches and managers were available to push me in workouts or simply rebound shots. But still, I often found my way to the court solo. It brought me back to the driveway as a kid or the old Y as a teen. There was something sacred and satisfying about working on my game in a quiet gym. Mental and physical preparation beyond the court was almost always individual — visualization, rehabilitation and beyond. Even as a pro, I was often alone.
Dreams generally begin by watching a magical performance under the bright lights. For me, it was my youngest memories of attending Illini basketball games. Those players were my heroes. Seeing them perform inspired me to dream of one day playing on that same stage. But while a dream can be conceived in a moment, it is realized in the journey. And oftentimes, that road is one of solitude and silence. Dreams are achieved in the dark when no one is watching.
Nike’s new slogan during the COVID-19 pandemic speaks. There’s something to be said about playing a role in the greater good for our community, our country and this world. There are many right now who are sacrificing and serving directly on the front lines. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for them! But we all have a role to play, and here is our chance. Young and old. Athlete and entrepreneur. Now is a time to play for each other. And here’s the deal — if you ever want to play in front of millions (or play for millions💰), the recipe never changes: Discipline yourself. Be creative. Focus on what you can control. Then get to work!
Why not get started — right now — in the dark?
Quote: “The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when nobody else is watching.” -Anson Dorrance (22 national titles as UNC Women’s Soccer Coach)