The Spring/Summer club season has arrived. This always brings back memories from when I played on the circuit and how special a time it was. The competition was fierce on the court but off the court I can still remember the laughter, jokes, and funny moments that we shared. Our team consisted of a starting 5 that went on to become starters in the Pac-10. Erica Mashia- USC, Jamie Redd- UW, Jennie Leander- Cal, Sonya Curtis-Oregon, and myself at Arizona. We had 4 other teammates that also played at some level in college as well. Our team had exceptional talent but what made us special and what I remember the most was how unselfish, yet competitive the girls were.
The biggest challenge during AAU/Club ball is being able to gel with new teammates, figure out your role, and still stand out in front of the many college coaches who will be watching at the NCAA viewing tournaments. Be careful to not get caught up in the hype of the recruiting process and the pressure it brings. If you stay true to your principles as a person first you will do fine. If you don't know what that looks like, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself: Does my attitude and play reflect a team first mentality? Do I look my coach in the eye when they are speaking with me? What do I look like when I've made a mistake? Do I make an impact when I step on floor? Impact is measured in several ways, not just points and rebounds. Setting great screens, making the extra pass, bringing energy and passion when your teammate makes a great play. All impactful moments in a game. There are no stats for those things but they stand out and showcase who you are as a person, not just a player.
Being able to forge a role for yourself can be the hardest hurdle when you join a team that is at the elite level. Finding your role and competing for playing time is a pre-cursor to what you will encounter should you get a Division 1 scholarship. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that getting your scholarship means you have made it because they are painting a false picture of reality. When you get to the Division 1 level, you are joining a team that consists of girls who were the best on their elite club teams. When you step foot on campus for the first time, whether you are conditioning, playing pick-up, or going through individual workout sessions you have to be ready to compete all the time. If you don't, you might as well find yourself a comfortable spot on the bench when the season starts. I guarantee you there is a girl on your squad who is going to take your minutes because she is going to compete every chance she has to secure her spot in the rotation. That may sound harsh but it is reality.
Being unselfish and competing is a fine balance but if you can figure that out, you will be on your way to a successful Spring/Summer season.