How to Retire from Basketball

Lakiesha Phillips
Contributing Writer

My first memory playing basketball was playing on a team with all boys and my dad coaching me. I look back on it now, cherishing how my dad constantly reminded me that I was just as capable as those boys when it comes to playing basketball. The first person I actually picked up a basketball with was my dad; he became my coach and my number one fan all at once.

When I was young, basketball was a great way for me to make friends and just have fun. As I got older, it became more serious and more of a passion for me, I wanted to be the best player I could be. I started spending more time in the gym working on my craft and became a lot more critical of myself as a player. I think growing up playing basketball helped me gain so much confidence, taught me how to be a leader and dedicate myself to becoming better every day. It’s exhilarating to play in front of an audience, you have people cheering you on from the stands and it just makes you feel so important and gives you a whole different kind of energy.

Playing basketball at Sewanee was a great opportunity because I was able to play the sport that I love and also be an active member of the University community. If I had played basketball at a Division I or Division II school, I would not be able to say that I am serving as the Student Government Association President. I think being on the team my first year helped me learn a lot about time management and helped me to become more organized. I knew that I needed to get homework done before practice or before I left for a road trip. I don’t think basketball really constricted my social life, I mostly hung out with the team during season and after season I was able to really focus on my outside friendships. I just had to communicate with my friends that weren’t on the team that I would not be as available during season as I am outside of season. Having supportive friends really made that easy.

Image courtesy of Lyn Hutchinson and Sewanee Athletics.

I honestly did not think our last game would be our last game. I was confident that we would continue playing, but things happen for a reason. Those last 38 seconds of our game were extremely bittersweet, because I felt in my gut that this was the end, and I had to give everything I had. You never really imagine your basketball career ending until it actually happens. The first week after season ended has been so difficult for me because I know that this time around the end of the season actually means the end of my career, whereas the other two years I knew that I had another season to look forward to. I am really just trying to learn to adjust and also remind myself that the end was inevitable and I should cherish the moments and opportunities that basketball has given me for the past 12 years.