Another Door Opens

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

It was our last scrimmage game before the start of the 2009 Valparaiso girls’ varsity basketball season. The clock counted down not only the time left in the game but also how many seconds I had left playing on my basketball team before I told the coach of my decision not to try out for the team that year. Though my parents always supported me in my pursuits, they gave preference to my quitting basketball, a sport I participated in for the preceding nine years. Instead, they advised me to devote all my time developing into a more talented tennis player. The thought “to quit or not to quit” haunted me night and day. It was a major risk to quit one sport to see if I could make the varsity team in another. Increasing the risk was the fact that I had only started playing tennis the previous year. When the decision-making time came, I decided to alter my priorities and quit basketball. Though I encompass a melancholic feeling every time I watch my former teammates play a basketball game, I never expected all the serendipitous things that came from making that decision.After the scrimmage I expressed my thoughts: “Coach, this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do because never have I quit a team or backed down from any challenge, but I am not going to try out for the team this year. This has nothing to do with the way you coach. I just feel that I should focus on improving my tennis skills and studying for my challenging classes.” Coach then responded in a way I did not expect him to, stating, “Natalie, I respect you very much for talking to me about this. I understand your decision, and though we wish you would still be a part of this team, I’m glad you have your priorities straight, and I know you will succeed.” After that, many rewards came to me. Due to playing sports my whole life, I have learned how to manage my time competently, and after quitting basketball I acquired more time to study and join additional clubs. More time to volunteer at my Greek Orthodox Church also became available. In addition to the long hours spent with schooling and academic or community clubs, I found time to practice tennis relentlessly over the winter, mastering the fundamentals and showing the coach my improvements. There were difficulties I encountered with the current varsity players and their parents thinking I would never improve enough to play at the varsity level, but after practicing long hours, I proved the doubters wrong and became a passionate leader on the varsity tennis team. I worked up to playing at number one doubles and competing at semi-state with my partner. Quitting the basketball team really showed me how much I loved tennis and how important my schooling is to me. It also created a closer-knit family with my parents supporting me at every match, tournament, and title.As well as playing tennis, I began working at a chiropractic clinic after school. Before obtaining a job at the clinic, the only course of work I had previously had was working as a nanny to a few neighbors and mowing their lawns in the summer. I was eager to begin working at an office and learn the behind-the-scenes aspects of the medical field and how it is intertwined with lawyers and court cases. The medical field and laws have always interested me immensely, and it is wonderful to be able to learn all about that everyday and be a part of the process before cases get sent from lawyers to clients and before the doctors’ work on their patients. Additionally, I have learned various aspects of the insurance world and how to deal professionally with patients. Being part of a professional world every afternoon opened up my eyes to numerous new aspects of life as an adult and helped me become an even more organized, mature, and well-rounded person.Alexander Graham Bell once stated, “As one door closes another one opens.” There have been times in my life when one thing ends and something greater will come out of it, but none to the extent of what became of my “closing the door” to basketball. Amazingly, making one small decision to alter my priorities presented abundant opportunities showing me possibilities of what I wish to accomplish before, during, and after college. It proved to me how important tennis, my job, and my schoolwork is, and how committed I am when I set my mind to something.

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