Redemption: Started from the Bottom
- basketball, bundesliga, challenges, comeback, germany, inspiration, kita waller, mental toughness, motivation, omar collington, overandbeyondbasketball, overcome, story, struggles, womens basketball
Life is full of disappointments, setbacks, and failures. None of those things can permanently stop you. You have the power in you to overcome anything that life throws at you. There is nothing as powerful as a made up mind. No person, situation, or circumstance can define who you are. Don’t give up, cave in, or stop believing that it’s possible. It’s not over until you win.
This is my story of how I went from playing in the 2nd league to playing in the 5th league to back playing the 2nd league. It is something no American would do because of the pay and the level of competition. My dreams and career were almost ruined with slander and defamation, but I refused to run away from another challenge that life through my way.
I played three seasons in the 2nd Bundesliga, with hopes and dreams of playing in the 1st Bundesliga, still one of my dreams til this day.
The Beginning of this Chapter
In 2015-2016, my former team was sitting in the top four, something that hadn’t been done for quite awhile. The year before we made it to the playoffs, but couldn’t quite reach our goal of 2nd Bundesliga Champions. I used the pain, frustration, and setback to help motivate me for the 2015 – 16 season.
Preseason starts in 2016-2017, my coach at the time gave us running test to make sure that we were prepared for the upcoming season. They were called the Beep and Copper Test. For those of you that don’t know me, I hate running with a passion without a basketball. Its one of my most mental challenges still. I had completed both these tests the previous two years. Never on the first try, but most certainly on the second. But this time was completely different, no matter how mentally ready I was and how physically prepared I was, I failed both. Every time I performed the tests, I would feel dizzy and weak, I would have to stop and puke my life away. My legs would feel as if I were running with cement, I just couldn’t pass the tests.
Team rules were, that in order to play, you must pass both tests. Two weeks before our season opener, I went to the doctor, and found out that I was HIGHLY anemic. This meant that the iron in my blood was almost non-existing. The doctor couldn‘t understand how I was getting out of the bed, yet alone playing sports. She gave me iron pills and encouraged me to changed my diet. A day after I passed one of the tests. I was so happy and preparing myself, I was almost ready to play. When I arrived home, I found a letter threathening to send me home because I had not upheld me end or the contract. I ignored it and kept working hard and finally completed both test before the season opener.
Season finally arrives, and all is well, I am playing and I am one of the top 5 players in the league. We are winning. Things were looking pretty good for us as team. then I suffered a mild shoulder injury causing me to miss a game and a lot of practices. Another obstacle to overcome, I couldn‘t let this injury be the determining factor of who I was and who I was known to be. I am fighter and still am to this day. I did any and everything to keep myself healthy so I could play basketball, but my shoulder still wasn’t healing. In fact, it was getting worse even though it felt good. Reaccuring instances of my shoulder injury would awaken me to screams of excruciating pain in the middle of the night.
I had to make the choice most athletes don‘t like to make, because we would definetly be sidelined for a while. I made a doctors appointment and then came the news, I asked my Club Manager to join me becaue at the time my German language skills were not where they are today. He explained, I could continue to play and finish out this miraculous season that we were having, but it could also be my last season if I didn’t get surgery on my shoulder. This sidelined me for 12 weeks, but the positive was, I would be able to prolong my basketball career.
At this point, I was not going to let anything hold me back and having a career was more important than a season. I knew I would come back stronger than ever. That season was already tough because of the minor setbacks I faced during that season. My anemia, us losing to the last place team right before christmas break, which during the game we were left by our head coach during a crucial part of the game. After cutting into our opponents lead, something I have never experienced in my career, my coach leaves to go take a bathroom break during the game. After this a series of events started to take shape and I was still dealing with my shoulder surgery. A lot of things happened during the Christmas break that spoke against me. I became exiled from the team practices, games, Whatsapp chats and Facebook groups. Not understanding what it was that I did wrong. I tried my best to communicate with the Coach, who only wanted to communicate with me on Facebook and in a language I didn‘t understand at that time, and the coach was fluent in English, just chose not to communicate with me in a way I could understand.
When the season was over, I thought the best thing that could happen for me would be to find another team to play for. The coach and team manager both didn‘t want me, nor did I want to play for them. While looking for other offers, I got the chance to talk to two other teams. They wanted me and I wanted to play for them. When asked why I wanted to leave my former club that I had been playing for the last three seasons, I was open and told them what had happened. They needed to confirm my side of the story and wanted to talk with my former coach. The coach said, that I was an alcoholic, drug addict, bad person, and someone you do not need to have around your club or kids. It was said that I would come to practice intoxicated. All which were not true! I was averaging 16.5 pts, 7.1 rebs 4.2 ass 4.1 steals. How does a drug addict/alcoholic do that while surviving?
I asked myself how did I get to this point? What have I done wrong? No one wanted to believe me. I was angry, sad, depressed because I felt that my dreams were fading away and there was nothing that I could do to change it. I almost went home but that meant I would have given up everything that I had worked for. I got a phone call from a club called, Capitol Bascats Düsseldorf. I had never heard of the club but I was willing to hear them out. At this point, i’m thinking I had nothing to lose. This team was around for just one year. And it meant that I would have to play in the 5th league (Landesliga).
Now I had two choices, I could start from the bottom and work my way up, or I could just give up on basketball period. Giving up was never an option. Although it was easy playing in the 5th, 4th, and 3rd leagues, it was one the hardest things that I have ever had to deal with. It was mentally challenging. there wasn’t any real competition and challenges for me, going to practices were hard because not everyone had the same drive as me. They only wanted to play because it was fun and at this level, something to do. If it wasn’t for Omar Collington, mentally challenging me, I would have just given up my dream completely.
Patience and Lessons
There were so much aggression, anger, and frustrations built in me during practices and games I would become a totally different person. That was a person that I didn‘t know existed in me nor would it benefit my career. I had to do some soul searching to find peace with the choice I made in joining a 5th league team. It was my decision and mine alone, here is where the mental challenges help me understand that there was a higher power trying to help me become the player that I have always wanted to be. The game of basketball is 10% physical and 90% mental. Never understood that until I reached the lower levels of competition.
The first game I played I score 54 points in the game. The next game it was 42. I could have went on averaging 40 plus points a game, but I needed to become more than that. I was challenged to become a better leader, I had to challenge myself in becoming a better version of myself in order to help the team be at the top. We ran through the 5th, 4th, and 3rd leagues. These last three years taught me more than I would have ever learned, had I given up and went back home. Fast forward to today, we are in the 2nd Bundesliga sitting momentarily in 1st place, with aspirations of moving up into the 1st Bundesliga. It’s Not Over Til It’s Over, my journey continues…
My Message to You!
If you read to this point, thank you for reading my story. Without surrounding myself around people who reminded me that I mattered, and supporting me in the ways that mattered most to me, I wouldn’t be the player and person that I am today. Giving up on your goal because of a setback is like slashing your other three tires because you have one flat tire. When something bad happens to you, you have three choices. You can let it define you. You can let it destroy you. Or you can let it strengthen you.
At first it tried to destroy me, trapped in a place of misery, then I allowed it to define me, which held me back from becoming the best version of myself. Once I allowed it to strengthen me, I started to grow in ways I will always be grateful for. The choice is yours. we all go through setbacks, you choose how it affects you. Every setback is a setup for a comeback. And this was mine.
Thank you for reading,