Even though I was only a freshman during the 21-22 season, like any player, I wanted to prove myself on the court.
I’m from Calgary, so I knew adjusting to life in the United States and at Memphis would come with some learning curves. I remained patient for my opportunity.
As soon as I felt like I was starting to figure things out on the court, I got concussed.
And by the time I was healthy enough to return, I was back to where I started.
I had my moments, sure, but if I wanted to be a difference-maker on this team going forward, I needed to improve in all aspects of my game.
It’s not that I wasn’t 100% committed to basketball already, but starting this past summer, basketball became 24/7.
After a freshman season where my role was limited, I was prepared to do whatever it took to be a prominent member of the Memphis basketball team.
No stranger to adversity
Adversity has been a common theme in my life, and it’s followed me throughout my entire basketball career.
In fact, there was a time not too long ago when I wasn’t sure I had much of a future in basketball. Back in my provincial playing days, I tried out for Team Alberta and got cut.
I tried out the following season and got cut again.
I was frustrated beyond belief, and part of me was tempted to just pack it in. Fortunately, I finally made the team when I tried out for the third time.
As I continued to improve on the court and move up the ranks in playing for Team Alberta and Team Canada, one of my coaches contacted Memphis and let them know about me.
There were still many restrictions with the Covid situation, so I wasn’t able to take an official visit or anything, but Memphis left a strong impression on me right away.
I accepted a basketball scholarship without ever visiting the campus or knowing much about the city. That may sound crazy, but truthfully, I was just grateful for the opportunity to play college basketball and be a Memphis Tiger.
While I had the right attitude during my freshman year, as I look back on it, I didn’t take enough risks on the court.
As a freshman, it’s easy to fall into that trap of playing timid and safe on the court. You want to make the most of your opportunities, so taking care of the basketball and not making mistakes is what you focus on.
That’s all fine and well, but some of the best plays come from taking chances.
And I wasn’t confident enough to take those chances on the court.
When my freshman season ended, I recognized that I had to believe in myself and my abilities on the court first if I ever wanted to be a key contributor to this team.
This year will be different
What motivated me all off-season was envisioning my sophomore season would be different in all the best ways.
With every training session, cardio activity, or scrimmage — when things got hard and I wanted to quit — I just kept reminding myself that this year would be different.
Basketball has always been a focal point in my life, but I took it to another level this past offseason in my training and preparation.
I was doing cardio five times a week, lifting weights, and strength training three times a week.
On Sundays, I’d scrimmage with the boys.
Then on Mondays, I’d turn around and scrimmage with the girls.
It was intense, but that commitment and dedication is exactly what I needed to prepare me for the 22-23 season.
As the season got underway, I noticed my hard work paid off almost immediately, but it didn’t really sink in until I got my second double-double of the season.
At that point, it wasn’t a fluke, and it was rewarding to see all the time and effort I spent in the offseason translate to the court.
Physically, I was in the best shape I’ve ever been, but I also noticed such a difference this season mentally.
I mentioned last year how I was afraid to make mistakes and didn’t take enough risks.
This year, I just let the game come to me.
I had the trust of my teammates and coaches, which gave me the confidence I needed in what turned out to be a breakout season for me.
Hungry for more
The 22-23 season will always be a memorable one for me personally, but it was a special season for our team as well.
I remember back in December, we were getting destroyed in the first half by Towson.
I don’t recall how many points we were down, but it was ugly.
We ended up coming back in the second half, and Jada got a tip-in at the buzzer that won us the game.
We realized afterwards that there really isn’t anything this team can’t accomplish. And that realization propelled us to a 22-11 record and playing well into the WNIT Tournament.
After a season with that much success, it only makes us hungrier to come back next year and improve even more.
I feel the same way about my individual play.
As much as I grew on the court this season, now isn’t the time to rest on my laurels. I have plenty of areas that I can continue to work on and improve.
Most importantly, I plan on taking on a leadership role next season.
I’ll be a junior and upperclassman next year, so I look forward to being someone the younger girls can look up to and seek advice from.
As proud as I am of how I’ve improved, grown, and persevered in the past two years at Memphis, I know the work’s only just begun, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.