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  • A little background about me before you read this story: I wrote this in High School. I love basketball. I played in high school for four years which wasn’t necessarily the easiest thing always for many reasons. However, looking back, those obstacles are what made me love it even more and it still rings a special emotion in my heart. This is why…

    “Ohmigod! That girl has one hand!” I overheard an opponent say as our team was warming up for the basketball game. I turned around to see what girl they were talking about, but I didn’t see anyone with one hand. Then I saw them staring at me.

    “What are they looking at me for?” I thought to myself. Then I looked down at my hand, “Ohhh, haha, they are talking about me.”

    Since I never noticed my special characteristic, I assumed that neither did anyone else. The fact that I was born with one hand and playing a sport that uses two never set me back. I was doing something that I loved so I unconsciously looked past any obstacles in my path. It wasn’t until I made the high school team that I realized how much of an impact I made by, what seemed to me, a small action.

    Tryouts for the Freshmen Basketball team came around and I went with high hopes of making the squad. I worked hard in summer camp, basketball conditioning, and my traveling team. My teammates always cheered me on and praised my game. All of this boosted my confidence and I had little doubts about making the team.

    During tryouts, I was ready to show the coaches what I had. I pushed myself during every drill and knew that I was performing better than some of the girls there. After the tryouts were over, I came early to school to see the team list. When I arrived, I saw my friends already there checking the list. They quickly looked for me on the list and I knew from their faces that I wasn’t on it. I looked for myself and it was true, I was not on the list. My friends were silent for a while and then I said with a smile, “It’s okay,” even though I knew it really wasn’t and that I was dying inside.

    That whole day was ruined for me. I couldn’t crack a smile and I couldn’t pay attention to what was happening around me because the same question kept on running through my head: Where did I go wrong?

    During lunch I found out there were weaker players that made the team over me. Everyone who made the team agreed that I definitely should have made it too. From then on, the team and I knew that something strange was going on.

    That night my mother called the coach. It was clear from his conversation that I didn’t make it because of my hand. I was shocked since I never thought of my hand as an issue in anything I took on.

    I came to school the next day, still in disbelief about what the coach said. I soon discovered the news had traveled throughout the school. As I walked down the halls, I was questioned about tryouts and many students offered support. I was hit with everything:

    “So.. .speaking of basketball are you on the team?”

    “Priya, don’t worry, you’ll be on the team.”

    “He’s a jerk.”

    “Want me to beat him up for you?”

    It was humorous to me that half these people I did not even know cared so much. I did not think that so many people would be affected by my story, but everyone I encountered took what happened to me personally.

    A few days later, the Athletic Department called me. They said that they had reconsidered and that I was to come to practice on Monday. I was ecstatic but at the same time I felt cautious and keenly aware of high expectations. I also became aware that others weighed the absence of a hand in their judgments on my ability and performance. I had a great deal to prove.

    After that experience, I decided to keep pushing myself and make Varsity. It wasn’t until Varsity year that I realized how great an impact I actually had on others. A coach came up to me during a summer tournament and told me,

    “We used you as our inspiration today…. Thank you.”

    I never thought that I would be someone else’s inspiration but for that reason I would now push myself even more.

    “People will always doubt what you say but rarely doubt what you do” is the saying on the back of our basketball shirts. This is a saying that I learned early on. Through basketball I learned what it means to fight for something and to push oneself despite challenges and doubts of others. I didn’t push myself to prove others wrong so much as I refused to cut myself short, something that everyone was waiting for me to do. Basketball caused me some difficulties but the pride and satisfaction I have taken from the game has outweighed all those struggles. The respect, passion, and love of the game cannot be replaced by anything else. People tell me that I have touched their lives by my determination and guts, but I tell them that I simply pursued what I loved.
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