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Getting serious about the game

Hi, my name is Katie. I am 14 (almost 15) and a sophomore at Ithaca High School, where I play basketball from November through March. After that I play AAU on a team called the Elmira Lady Express. We play from March to July, ending our season at U.S. Junior Nationals. I have been playing basketball since I was in third grade, and I have improved so much since then. I also play volleyball for Ithaca High School with a ton of my friends.

When I decided to play basketball in third grade, I was really not that good. I was too nice and too slow, and I really didn't care that much. I'm pretty sure that the girls I played with didn't care that much either. I just played to have fun, which was perfectly fine. That summer, my best friend and I went to the Cornell Basketball Camp where we learned a ton. Going back to basketball that winter, I was much better. According to my parents, I stole a ton of the passes and scored a lot of points (I think they were just saying that). I had so much fun that year and we actually started winning games! That's when I knew that basketball was a sport that I would play for a very long time.

Heading into middle school in sixth grade, I was too young to play on a school team and my parents and I were worried about where I could play. I met one of the P.E. teachers who also happened to be my coach the next couple of years. That year, I was invited to play AAU (which I had not heard of until then) with a whole bunch of older eighth graders, all of whom were so good! I was really excited and nervous, especially because I didn't really know a lot of them and they were a lot older than me. They were also a lot better than I was and that helped me improve. Playing AAU with them was so much fun and that was one of the years where I think I improved the most.

Going into seventh grade I was finally able to play on the modified basketball team. I made modified, but was put on the team I didn't want to be on (it wasn't the team with my AAU coach). But, that year was really fun to finally be able to play for my school. When it came to AAU season, I was on a team with girls a little closer to my age. That season was not very good. I loved my coaches and my teammates, but we didn't really improve much as a team. The club that year was pretty unorganized, even though I had two really great coaches, one of which is still one of my really good friends.

In eighth grade, I decided to try out for the JV team. Making that team as an eighth grader made me really happy. I was one of three eighth graders who made the team, and that year made me a much more competitive player. We had a really fun season and I learned what it was like to be committed to a team. We had to drive across town every night right at dinnertime, and family dinners were non-existent during the season.

Towards the end of the JV season, I met a man named John Harris. He told me that he had seen a few of my games and he really liked how I played. He gave my dad his card and told us that he would really liked it if I came to play for him during the AAU season. I was flattered, but had some serious decisions to make.

First off, the team was in Elmira, which was a 45-minute drive from my house going to practice twice or three times a week. Also, we weren't sure if there even was going to be a team in Ithaca, but once we did I knew that my whole JV team was counting on me to play with them during the AAU season. The girls on the new team were all from different towns, and none of us knew each other. It would be the hardest decision I had to make regarding basketball.

So, I decided to play for Elmira because the competition was more of a challenge, which I thought would make me better. I also went there because the traveling was further (which would be really fun I thought) and I wanted to be scouted for playing basketball in college. We also were not sure if there was a definite team here in Ithaca, especially for my age group.

At first, I thought I had made the wrong decision. My basketball friends in Ithaca seemed to hate me, and no one on this new team knew each other. Plus, my coach was rumored to be really harsh and mean. But soon, I started getting more comfortable with my new team. As we got to know each other, we started winning more games, and eventually tournaments. By the end of the season I had made some really great new friends and my coach was actually a really good one who just happened to be loud (not too mean).

Then, before I knew it, I was a freshman in high school. The transition was scary at first, but I met some new people and eventually started to get comfortable (kind of like my new AAU team). I started out the fall doing a different sport, volleyball. It was a load of fun and I actually met one my best friends while playing volleyball. Our team was not the best, but we really enjoyed what we did, which was the best part.

Once volleyball ended and basketball started, I decided to try out for the varsity squad. I wasn't sure if I would make it because I was just a freshman, but I was confident in how much I had improved and decided to try it anyway. I made the team with another freshman who I had played with on JV the year before. The girls from the varsity team were many of the same I had played with on my first AAU team-the ones who had helped me improve much when I was in sixth grade.

More Later,
Katie


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