Ikechukwu Onwuzurike

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My mother once told me to always aim for the sun, even if I landed on the moon. At first, I did not comprehend, but I came to understand through basketball.

Playing for the first time in eight grade, I lacked real skill. While everyone aced the 2-point shooting drill, I struggled with lay-ups. I always saw practice not as an opportunity to improve but rather the opportunity to display my ineptitude at basketball for my teammates and coaches. I will not claim that my sneakers never touched the court on a typical game day, but starting was an impossibility; in more important games, so was playing at all. On a really sour day of practice, I would tearfully lament my situation, often telling myself, “Man, it sucks to suck!” The experience was so daunting that I vowed to never play basketball again. Mom, in her infinite compassion, was aware of the whole affair and sent me to a basketball camp after the season had ended; I obviously had to warm-up to the idea of touching a basketball again. The camp was memorable as I learned useful dribbling and shooting skills and for the first time found enjoyment in playing basketball. I realized then that, had I tried to improve at my old basketball practices as much as I did at camp, I would have shown noticeable improvement. Had I tried my best, I not only would have avoided a painful ordeal, I also would have found the joy of basketball much sooner. It was this experience that caused my mom’s words of wisdom to stick in my mind. I may land on the moon, I told myself, but I will never aim for it.