This week’s Athlete Series contributor is Sydney Wilson (@sydney_inthecity), a 2013 Georgetown University grad and former D1 college basketball player. Sydney resides in NYC and has her own blog called Sydney in the City. She is also the Chelsea office coordinator at women’s dance and fitness studio @bodybysymone.
The following was written by Sydney in June.
Ball is life, really.
Basketball has given so much to me. I was able to attend St. Johns College High School in Washington DC for free, because of basketball. I then went on to attend Georgetown University on a full scholarship, also thanks to basketball. I’ve always loved basketball, not because I am extremely tall at 6’6″, but because I’ve always been good at it. I have an awesome Mom who allowed me to explore different sport and activity options growing up, but no matter what I was doing, everything circled back to basketball. My dad was a super tall athlete who played football at Penn State under Joe Paterno and won a national championship. It came as no surprise to my family and friends that I was going to be a basketball player, and a good one. Recently a good friend of mine and former teammate from Georgetown, Vanessa Moore, made a great point on her Snapchat story. She was talking about how women tend to be more modest than men and we don’t own up to being good at things. For example, when I’ve been asked whether I’m a good basketball player, I hesitate and say a bunch of other unnecessary information instead of just saying “YES” – which is the truth!
Being a woman can be difficult.
Everyone looks to us to wear many different hats, and we do it. Growing up, I was taught that I am a lady. I was wearing dresses early and expected to look good at all times and I love that, to this day. I’ve always been this super girly basketball playing princess with pink nails…and I am totally fine with that! As a woman and a former athlete, I always encourage young women and women playing at the professional level to be exactly who they are at all times. Whether on the court, the field…wherever…you are entitled to be exactly who YOU are and are most comfortable with because you are the one kicking a$$ and being super awesome at your sport.
So back to basketball, ball is life. I absolutely love the game. I was practically jumping through the TV screen during the 2017 NBA and WNBA finals this year. The passion will never go away, HOWEVER, basketball and I have beef. I had 2 major knee surgeries early on in my collegiate career. I knew early on that my dreams of going to the WNBA and playing overseas were likely shattered and so I took school seriously and accepted that I was going to graduate and get a job. I was going to be BOSSY and I was going to have a career. I was just fine with this, a degree from Georgetown isn’t too shabby and, to be honest, I was getting tired of basketball. While I will always love this game, I’m so much more than just a tall girl with a ball, and I knew this about myself early. I believe that while we may be great at a sport or activity in particular, its important that we also figure out what else we are good at in life.
Is your sport really your passion or are you just good at it and comfortable with it?
I can’t lie ya’ll, when I graduated from college I had a really hard time. I almost resented basketball for ruining my knees and for making me feel depression over not being able to play anymore. I thought I was stronger than that. I thought I was going to graduate, go out and conquer the world but that’s just not how it went. I found for myself how difficult post-sports life can be. This is where I found I have a love/hate relationship with this game ….definitely more love but still hate.
First, I believe it is important that we acknowledge how difficult it is to transition from doing one thing your entire life, something that opens doors for you and changes your life, then having that thing be taken away completely. Once it’s taken away, how are you to respond? How are you to function when you’ve spent your entire childhood and collegiate career on a tight schedule from classroom, plane or bus, to gym? It’s not easy, and that needs to be said. Second, we should acknowledge how frustrating it can be to be constantly categorized in our post athlete lives. People will constantly ask you where you play, and straight up assume you do something that you’re trying your best to move forward from and accept that it’s just not your lifestyle anymore. Third, I don’t “hate” basketball because I don’t want to play; I “hate” it because I can’t play and for a long time, that hurt.
So, how do we move forward?
Well, you take the time to think about you. You learn who you are post sports life and you find what else you’re great at. It took me years to sort through this process and if I can help expedite this process for someone else, that would make me really happy…I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the transition but I am here to talk to you. Find what else it is that you’re great at and do it, foster it, love it…be passionate about it. I promise you are so much more than your sport and it’s ok not to be doing it anymore. It is also totally ok to love and hate it, I understand exactly where you’re coming from and many others do too.
I guess you can say the main takeaway here is that you should acknowledge your emotions and what you’ve accomplished. Know that you are a woman of many talents. You are not to be categorized or boxed in by what you were doing previously, and you are entitled to unlimited happiness.
Our Love Squad Athlete Series celebrates the elite athlete in all of us by telling the stories of women for whom elite sports and fitness have played a defining role in their lives. Whether they are former college ballers, professional athletes, or career fitness instructors, sports and fitness helped shape who they are today.
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