My first introduction to sports was at eight years old as the lone girl on a little league baseball team. Soon after, I readily picked up track & field. Dwight Howard Sr., my first basketball coach, suggested that my parents put a ball in my hand and basketball quickly became my favorite sport. I vividly recall playing against the neighborhood boys until after sundown on milk crates. Later, I would pick up softball and fall in love with playing tennis.
However, I will always consider basketball my first true love. It has played a role that is much larger than “just a game.” Because of my God-given abilities to post up with a 28.5-inch orange ball, I was awarded a free education (to undergraduate and graduate school). I was also given an opportunity to play abroad in Europe where I experienced other cultures and met wonderful people.
Furthermore, preparation before the game and occurrences in between tip-off and the final buzzer have helped mold the person that I am today. Yes, playing sports has been a pleasurable pastime. Yes, it has been rewarding in a very tangible way. However, it’s the intangible benefits that I continue to cherish and profit from today. In addition to being pushed physically, playing sports on the college and professional levels requires mental toughness. Competing has helped me develop the confidence, determination, and persistence to be at peace with life’s struggles and to believe that I will succeed as I have done time and time again.
I also received a prestigious award from Greek Deputy Minister of Culture for Sport George Orfanos. In addition to an all-expense paid trip to Greece, I was presented with a silver wreath for my “valuable contribution to sport” – an award previously given only to Olympic athletes.
I could continue to elaborate on the joys of playing sports, but I will finish by explaining what I hope to accomplish with this blog. Neither women’s sports nor the athletes who dedicate their lives to competing from adolescence to professional leagues receive the recognition merited by their skill, sacrifices, and sweat and tears.
My hope is that you not only enjoy reading about the impact that sports has had in the lives of other female athletes but that you encourage girls’ participation in sports, that you support the efforts of women’s athletics, and that you’re inspired to be phenomenal.
Antonia Newman #35
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