Once upon a time, I was a high school basketball player. Basketball was a huge part of my life, starting in elementary school playing for my church and lasting all the way through high school. I loved the game, loved my teammates, and loved competing. When I go in a gym now and hear the shoes squeaking, and smell that sweaty gym smell, and see the ball flying around, I want to jump in — even though I am too old and tired to run up and down the court anymore.
I was a decent player on a very good team. I played among several stars who would go on to play college ball; the biggest star was Tascha Davis. She was the unicorn. The one who did the Michael Jordan-esque stunts. The one who flew and made baskets out of nothing.
We were also good friends. She was hilarious, a talented writer, and smart as a whip. She got a scholarship to UNC-Asheville and without any cell phones or Facebook in the late ’80s, we lost touch. Through the magic of social media, we have reconnected and I asked her to guest blog for me. Fortunately, she said yes. Here is her story:
Life…Always Under Construction
by Tascha Davis
This may sound like a cliché but one day I woke up, took a critical look at my life, and realized how dissatisfied I was. Extremely. As we all know, either in our late teenaged years or in our early adult stages of life, we make plans for how we want our lives to become…and more often than not, our design becomes (helplessly) flawed by unpredictable obstacles and challenges that inevitably alter our course.
Then, as time passes, these plans are discarded upon the path of unattainable goals and shattered dreams and a detour is taken. The detour where nothing is planned and conformity to circumstances becomes a given.
We’re not instructed growing up that “life” never goes as planned or that we can never really “plan” for life. We can prepare for life, become equipped with better coping mechanisms and adjusting skills but no one can actually plan for it and everything turns out as planned. I learned like everyone else that once I reached adult status…all bets were off.
Since I was a basketball star in high school and recruited heavily by major higher institutions of learning, I had planned to ride the wave of stardom all through my college years while attaining either an English or Psychology degree. In my mind, I knew I was destined to play in the Olympics one day (at this time the WNBA wasn’t in existence). I was going to be a baller for life. I had no interest in having children nor a husband nor in living a domestic lifestyle. I was going to skip through life fancy and free until…well…until out of nowhere life happened and completely blindsided me.
First of all, I signed for a full ride to attend UNC-Asheville. The coach I signed to play for was a perfect match for my style of play as well as our perception toward the game. Well, as “life” would have it, the coach was fired the summer before my first semester began. I could have given up the scholarship and simply walked away and taken my chances with another school but I was in the midst of an emotionally difficult summer so I didn’t want to invest the time or energy looking into going elsewhere. So, I stayed on course and payed a huge penalty.
The women’s coach that was hired to replace her was the complete opposite of what I needed in a coach and I was the opposite of what she looked for in a player. She couldn’t appreciate my talents, my gifts or my flair for making things happen on the court that usually resulted in points on the scoreboard. So, I became frustrated, extremely, and I didn’t care how I expressed my frustrations. I was unhappy and for a player such as myself, it was all about the ball game.
Being a ball player was my identity and I equated my sense of worth as such so the more my pride was trampled upon by the coach and my envious teammates who graciously and sarcastically had nicknamed me “the freshman sensation” behind my back, the less I loved the game and I grew to hate it. Playing ball was my lifeline and the life was being sucked out of it. My academic studies also took a major blow. At the time, I was too young to appreciate or understand the benefits of a sound, quality education and so I lost it all: my scholarship, my education, and my sanity.
Life is a very consistent reminder of how it’s not always what you want but what life has already planned to offer you. After a year of sitting out, since I was determined that playing ball was my destiny, I tried out for another coach and was granted another full ride at Francis Marion College, now a University. This was a different story but with the same ending. Same envious teammates who decided to make my life hell because I was the only member of the team with a full ride even though I had to sit out a year because of eligibility requirements. The coach didn’t terminate my scholarship this time around. I did. I simply walked away because at this point I had had enough. I didn’t care enough about being a ball player anymore to continue fighting for it. So, I hung up my Jordan’s literally for good but only temporarily in my mind.
During my late twenties, when I was beginning to accept that being a ball player wasn’t in the cards for me, I was presented another opportunity to live the lifestyle that I had dreamt of. I was out eating lunch with a friend one day when I crossed paths with the head coach of Furman University’s Women’s basketball program. We spoke briefly of what had taken place in my life up until that point. She asked if I had any aspirations of trying out for the WNBA league that had newly been formed. I told her that I hadn’t thought much of it. She encouraged me to try out because she viewed me as a good candidate. She offered me the use of her facilities which included the gym and the weight room and anything else that she could assist me with. My interest was piqued and I decided that I would take on the challenge and resurrect my pride and reputation.
But I also had responsibilities at this time and I couldn’t abandon them. I had no assistance with those responsibilities at the time and so everything hung in the balance. By the time I had help come into my life, I was in a car accident that altered my physical capacities forever. I broke my left hip and my femur bone and although I have endured six hip surgeries, the last being a total hip replacement, use of this hip has never been totally restored.
At the beginning of my journey, I frowned upon children and the responsibilities that came along with them. Everyone who knew me perceived me as irresponsible and I was in total agreement with that perception. I didn’t want an ordinary life. I wanted extraordinary that came with awards of recognition and achievement, ceremonies, televised interviews, and newspaper articles. I didn’t want to live under the radar. I wanted to blow up the radar. My interest in pursuing an English degree came from my love of literature, writing, and poetry. My other interest in pursuing a Psychology degree came from my fascination with human behavior and how the mind works primarily when mental illness comes into play since I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
So when I finally “woke up” I was in my mid-thirties and I realized that although my life hadn’t gone as planned, it still had many amazing opportunities to offer me. By this time I had given birth to two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. I was a very responsible parent and I enjoyed motherhood and the challenges it presented. Nonetheless, something valuable was missing. Growing up I never realized or understood that having an education was more important than any of my ball playing dreams.
It never dawned on me that using my mind could be just as rewarding and beneficial as using my physical self. I had been selling myself short because I was allowing myself to believe that my only talent or gift lie in having a basketball gripped in my palms. I possessed other gifts and talents like writing, songs or poetry or really just about anything. So, I decided to enroll back in college but in different areas of concentration this time around. My newfound interest lie in business and how I could profit off of my writings. So, last December I received my associate’s degree in Business Management and I’m two exams away from receiving my associate’s degree in Business Marketing.
I’m extremely proud of these achievements. I worked hard for them so I deeply cherish and value them. I want to continue and further my education and work toward a bachelor’s degree. Most of all I want my talents to “work” for me. I have visions of an entertainment company on the horizon which will specialize in music, book publishing, and film. My outlook is if I’m going to write something then I’m going to be the one to own all rights to it.
Initially, I had thought that life had been unfair by not going according to my plans. Instead, life has shown me that although we don’t always get what we want from life, we still get something that is just as rewarding as what we wanted or even better. I had so many faulty belief patterns in place and life is like a good parent, quick to correct them. I’m so happy that life proved to me that I can handle responsibility. I am thankful that life chose a different path for me to take.
I’m overjoyed that my tunnel vision was corrected because although my life didn’t go as I planned, the journey was still my own, individualized, and unique and I can deeply appreciate every obstacle I have had to overcome, every problem I have had to solve, and every challenge I have had to defeat. What life taught me was that Tascha Davis is much more than just a ball player and to this day, I’m still uncovering who she is.
Thanks to Tascha for sharing this piece with YellowDaisyChickChat! I hope that you guys or someone you know will be inspired and/or motivated by this guest blog. I know I was.
Take care of yourselves and each other,
February 3, 2016 at 6:51 pm
Thank you for sharing your story; it is thoughtfully crafted and filled with hope. Glad you two found one another again.
February 4, 2016 at 8:31 am
Yes, I agree, it is very well done. Always nice to catch up with an old friend. Thanks for reading, Marion!
February 4, 2016 at 5:01 pm
Great read – thanks, Tascha for sharing it. You were so much fun to watch play when you were in high school. Your play was inspiring but not as much as your story is.