Up until my final days of high school, my daily life could be spelled out quite simply: school, soccer, sleep, repeat.
Although soccer had been a part of my routine for thirteen years, I realized soon enough that part of my life would disappear right in front of my eyes. Sure, I could play recreationally, but the six days a week of competition were over. And I had heard college could give me a chance to fulfill the “craving” to play through recreational clubs and matches, but taking my gap year also meant flying 6,000 miles away from this opportunity too.
When I first settled into Barcelona, I set out to run in my free time (more so in the evenings as the weather permitted), but I didn’t find much pleasure in running without a goal, without teammates, with the knowledge that it was running in a completely different way than I was used to.
It became quite obvious to the people around me that I was missing the game. Friends of course encouraged me to join pick-up games, but I was intimidated to say the very least—even the 10-year-old boy I teach here can school me—because Spanish futbol is a whole new game.
Being 5’2” (on a good day), basketball was never really on my radar. Maybe it was just this new-city-new-experiences mindset, but I threw on my sneakers and pinned up my too-short-for-sports hair that I chopped as a resignation from soccer.
I’d seen an eclectic group of players running around the court every day as I walked home from class, and I could feel their simple, carefree bliss. I wanted to be reminded of that feeling.
I had no choice but to throw my self-consciousness to the wind—I came to play, to try something new, to meet other people, to exercise, to compete, and that was just what I was going to do.
Now, basketball may not have been the easiest sport to jump into, but it released my competitive nature and passion to participate on a team—the passion I hadn’t realized I’d lost until stepping onto the court.
Individual sports such as running, yoga, swimming, and biking are always a safe option to ignite the spark at any point in your life, but for someone who needs to feel the unity of a team, it takes a bit more of a leap to get started.
And sometimes it’s difficult to find enough players willing to form a team, but it can only begin to be established once you put your foot in the door; Ask friends, colleagues, town bulletins, Facebook groups—there are bound to be others looking to test the waters just like you. It can feel a bit bold or uncomfortable, but there is no negative consequence for trying; We all have to start somewhere. We all have to step onto the court.