A Soldier’s Journey


I honestly did not know what to name this blog post or how to even start it. For this particular story I think it’s necessary to start from the beginning to understand where I am now.

If you know me all throughout high school I’ve been plagued with injuries. All injuries happened around my basketball season. The only time I really got to play and get better was in AAU season, which is something I definitely do not regret and am so thankful for. Fast forward to the summer of sophomore year in college, Saint John Fisher College, I worked so hard. The coaches gave me a couple goals for me to reach and I surpassed all of them. One of the biggest goals was to get rid of a nagging limp & knee brace (ACL injury). I was able to kick the brace and run normally. I became much faster and stronger, and it was very noticeable to everyone. I began the season off strong but as we continued I started to fizzle out. Of course, I became disappointed with myself (for anyone who knows me I am my biggest critic). There was a lot of miscommunication amongst the coaches and I, and whenever I looked for answers there were none given. It was as though the coaches were afraid to talk to me and would dance around problems, when I all wanted was the clear truth. Needless to say, throughout the season I reverted to the old me. Class of 2012, some of my best friends to this day, they know the old me. The old me was the player that Coach Stone and I both despised because of her bad attitude. I stopped caring. I stopped working hard in practice. I was always mad and started to dislike my coaches and anything basketball related. My attitude was always coming onto the court and followed me off as well. Ultimately, I did not like the person I was becoming and the source of all my anger and frustration was tied to ball. I no longer was excited and I hated going into the locker room. I withdrew from my team and I could not give basketball my full energy and devotion. I hated it and anyone who saw me play could see the same. I felt like I had accomplished my goal of playing college ball so I thought it was time to put the ball down.

At the end of the season the coaches held meetings with all players individually to discuss the past season as well as moving on for improvements for the upcoming season. Sidebar, if you know me you know I am not afraid to speak my mind when it comes to how I am feeling—especially if you are an authorative figure. I listened to everything my coaches had to say and I agreed and nodded when it was necessary. When the tables turned and it was my time to talk I blatantly told them, “at this point in time I’m not sure if I want to play ball next season”. As you grow older you understand and realize that effective communication is absolutely necessary for any relationship to be functional. When I told them about the frustration and anger, to my disappointment they were genuinely surprised. I reminded them of the times I tried to talk to them but never got clear answers and they were embarrassed. I felt so good walking out of the meeting because they helped me put the ball down, but more so I accepted it and was fine with it. I remembered calling Coach Stone in tears saying that I didn’t want to be here anymore and he reassured me that everything was going to be fine and we would both start looking. Accepting that I was not going to play anymore I decided to put all my energy into academics (mom was thrilled). I applied to Syracuse University because they are one of the top schools in America for my major, Communication/Journalism. I’ve always wanted to get into broadcasting and I believed that Syracuse would provide me with opportunities that St. John Fisher College could not.

The summer of my junior year was fine, but everyone was constantly talking ball around me. Everyone wanted to know why I just stopped. Some people could not believe it and others felt like I was not done, but I told them, that I am done with basketball. People pressed me to try out for the basketball team and I thought that was insane and wrote it off every single time. The first couple of weeks of school I would see athletes walk around and feel stick to my stomach. I envied them, to be honest I did not like the feeling of being a “normal” student. My thought was that I would try to be as close to basketball as I possible could since I would not be playing it anymore. I interviewed to become a manager for the women’s team. During the interview the director of operations and assistant coach asked about my past basketball history. From that interview the director eventually introduced me to the head coach and we all worked through some paper work to make sure that I’d be able to join the team.

Throughout most of the first semester I’d manage the team’s practice as well done my own workouts within the facility. The coach would watch me from his office whenever I was shooting by myself or working out with someone else. He would check on me and ask if all my paperwork was taken care of and I would explain what I was waiting for, the details, etc. For a period of time nothing was happening, so I thought they were disinterested. The director of operations approached me one day and said you will no longer need a try-out you will have a practice loop in the locker room waiting for you tomorrow. December 15, 2014 I had my first practice with the Syracuse Women’s Basketball Team. I was proud of myself and was emotional after practice. Sophomore year of high school the dream was to be good enough to play college ball. Summer of senior year I tore my ACL. Freshman year of college I’m playing basketball. Summer of junior year I hated basketball and did not care to pick it up again. Now, this is the beginning of my second semester at SU and I’m playing basketball for a top division I program. Because I transferred to the university this year I am not allowed to suit up or travel with the team, but if you’re looking for me, catch me on the in my blue travel suit at the home games (:

Who knows what’s in store for me the next year, but I do know I am very grateful to be apart of the organization and humbled, honored to be given a second chance at the sport that I love. I am blessed beyond measure and proud that I can call myself a student athlete once again. The whole point of my story is that you must appreciate your journey, wherever you may end up. Don’t worry about the end game because life never goes as planned and sometimes that may even be a blessing in disguise. When one door closes another door is opened somewhere, you just have to find it and when you walk through that door you have to believe in yourself, or no one else will. Dream big and work hard, impossible is nothing.

Soldier out,

Aliyah Parris, Member, Syracuse Women’s Basketball Team

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