Reflections on playing a season

A season is a lifetime. At the beginning it seems like it may never end. Practices are long, drills are new, intensity is high and you wonder if this can last as long as it will have to in order to achieve your goals. Teammates have a lot of energy and they compete and jockey for positions and playing time. The team and the coach learn about each other, and find ways to cooperate and work together.

In the middle you start to groove a little bit. You know how things need to be done day in and day out, and you have to work that much harder, think that much faster and want that much more to be a team that is going to be around at the end of the year. In the middle everyone comes to work every day and grows closer and moves forward together. At this point, the guys know each other inside out and backwards and they have bonded to truly become a unit.

Near the end the team is hardened and experienced, but inevitably somewhat tired. The things you have been doing for five months come to you somewhat easily, but there is the dangerous potential for teams to fade away in the spring. For some it is hard to maintain motivation and to bring the same passion and desire to the floor each day. For others there is a realization that everything you’ve worked for, not only for five months, but for years and years, has put you in a position to achieve your goals. You go over the edge to ensure that happens.

The end of the season brings disappointment to most teams, but emotion to all. A few special teams end with a win and get to cut down the nets. Some players are done forever when a season ends and others get to start the process all over again. But the season was long, the season was hard and the season was a grind.

A season is a heartbeat. The summer flies by and before you know it you are playing pickup with the guys in the fall. You lift, shoot, run and do everything you can possibly do to get yourself ready for the season that lies ahead. Nov. 1 rolls around and you enter the gym for the first day of practice with excitement. Before you know it, you play your first game and then winter break rolls around. You come back and start to play scheduled games and practices become shorter, sharper and more efficient.

Before you can blink it is February and the conference tournament and postseason play are near. You lay it all out until there is nothing more to give; Just when it seems like it started yesterday, the season is over.

When the season ends, whether it feels like the end of a marathon or the end of the world, it is helpful to take a step away from it all and reflect. As you look back on the season, the great wins and devastating losses will undoubtedly be remembered, but those will not be the things that first come to mind. The guys, the camaraderie, the bonds formed; this will be what lingers. This is what lasts from all of the hard work, sweat, blood and tears that go into a season. Every bit of extra shooting, film sessions, ice baths, Sunday lifts, protein shakes, aqua jogs, etc.

The way you played cards before the games during winter study, went to a movie the night before a game, all-you-can-eat pizza on Tuesdays; all the little idiosyncrasies that only the members of the team know about. The imitations, the jokes, the habits of each guy; these are things that a player will take out of a season and remember forever. Unless you are a member of the team, unless you are there day in and day out, you cannot know what it is like to be a part of something so extraordinary and special.

When it comes time to sit down at the end of the year and reflect, it is impossible to fully articulate just how much being a part of the team and having the experience of the season truly means to a player. All the highs and lows, the ups and downs, and the joys and the miseries; it all amounts to something so utterly amazing and indescribable, that when you reflect, it may be hard to express what you feel, but you know because you feel it inside of you. The memories, the hard work, the failures and the successes alike are yours, and the season is yours. And these are things that nobody can ever take away from you.

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