16 candles (My Open Letter to Playing Collegiate Basketball.)

Sixteen Candles

Thanks to Selden

Thanks to SJB

Thanks to the NCAA

Thanks to the Ivy League

Thanks to the East Coast Conference

Thanks to the Referrees

Thanks to my Trainers

Thanks to my Coaches

Thanks to my Supporters

Thanks to my Doubters

Thanks to my Team

Thanks to my Friends

Thanks to my Family

Thanks to my Brothers

Thanks to my Mom

Thank you to the village it took to raise this child.

You have taught me how to

Be responsible

Be accountable

Be a leader

Be a teammate

Be a listener

Be confident

Be humble

Be passionate

Be you

Thank you to playing collegiate basketball, because of you I am who I am.

http://www.KamalaThompson.com

My final season of playing college basketball is over. Two years ago, I would have told you the same thing. From playing 3 years of my undergraduate at Dartmouth College to coming back home and making school history in one short year at Molloy College, I have learned a lot about the game of basketball. My journey to even finding the game of basketball started from my older brothers’ influences. Although, my mother did play netball for her birthplace, Jamaica. [Netball is the number one women’s sport in Jamaica and is similar to playing basketball except harder because there are no backboards on the hoops, no dribbling, no running with the ball allowed and the ball must be passed within 3 seconds.] Nonetheless, I found myself not only growing up, but growing up with basketball.

This game of shapes, forms, calculations and personalities helped shape the person I am today. And for that, I am forever indebted. In its simplest form basketball was a lot of time spent on me and my friends running up and down the floor competiting for the number one spot. Basketball exposed my competitive nature. And, in that same breath basketball has been my vehicle towards tolerance, understanding, and love. As I grow up I learn the importance of the people in your life. Your role model can be anyone you look up to, anyone who you want to be. On the other hand, the journey is endless and as you grow who you want to be can change.

My journey to playing collegiate basketball began in my hometown on Longisland, Selden, NY, at Newfield High School and finished high school at St. John the Baptist. During my junior year I went on my official visit to Dartmouth College in Hanover NH, fell in love, and the rest was history. Playing Division 1 basketball as an IvyLeague-collegestudent-trying to figure their life out… is a full time dedication. My senior year at Dartmouth I decided to focus on figuring things out and pursuing interests outside of basketball. Luckily this led me to writing my first book, Defying the Odds; On the Pursuit of Success. After graduating Dartmouth and beginning my professional career I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: Get a final season of collegiate basketball while gaining your Master’s degree. This was unexpected and coincidentally presented from a childhood teammate who happened to be the assistant coach at the time. Fast forward to today where our team was able to make history (herstory), as the underdogs no one knew about, by bringing home a East Coast Conference Championship, entering the sweet sixteen in the Division 2 National Championship, and making it the furthest in the program’s history.

This season and my stretch at playing college basketball ended but the lessons I’ve learned along the way will always live on. Being on a team means coexisting with different people, different personalities, and different ways of doing things. Successful teams learn how to do this the best where regardless of differences each individual feels a sense of belongingness. From the basketball teams I have played on I became extremely well rounded. My coaches and teammates taught me about the consequences of making wrong choices. My good coaches and teammates taught me where true loyalty lies. My favorite coaches and teammates established deep and lasting friendships and gave me the ability to find the joy in the little things in life. Basketball will forever have a place in my heart and regardless of what life has planned, what chapter opens next… playing collegiate basketball imparted me with the biggest life lesson I think I’ll ever learn: the importance of family, the importance of home.

“Find the beauty in the heartache, the revitalization of possibilties in pain” -Kamala Thompson

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