Last spring Lexi and Kara decided they needed some basketball in their lives and recruited Opal staff members to play in a women’s league. I was immediately enthused to play on the Opal team, the Opal Owls. I always loved basketball, however I hadn’t played since high school so I was expecting to be a bit rusty and unconditioned. What I wasn’t expecting, was to learn how much had been missing from my life with the absence of team sports, and how much this team would end up meaning to me.
We entered a league, that quite frankly, was much more experienced and competitive- we were out matched by a lot! I so vividly remember the first game we played. My nervousness before the game surprised me. I don’t remember getting nervous before games in high school, but my pounding heart and shaky hands let me know clearly that I was both excited and afraid. It must not have been more than 30 seconds on the court before the small blonde point guard from the opposing team stripped the ball from me, zipped down court and scored a nice easy lay-up. The first time this happened, I brushed it off with some humor and a reminder that I hadn’t played in over thirteen years, but that must have happened a good ten more times during that game. I could feel my face redden from humiliation and the frustration festering inside me. We ended up losing by 60+ points, a humbling experience to say the least.
Despite the difficult start, as the weeks went by the Opal Owls continued to show up with spirit, enthusiasm and commitment to work hard and have fun. As a team, we began developing co-hesion and flow, which allowed us to start anticipating the way each other would move on the court and even execute some fancy plays. The feeling of teamwork felt so great, and reminded me how much I value teamwork and connection in my life.
Being on this team not only reconnected me to the sport of basketball, but to the value of team sports in general. I did not play basketball in college, so my sport became triathlon, and my workouts became isolated and self-imposed. I would run, bike, and swim in a rigid and con-trolled manner, convinced that the enjoyment came from accomplishing decreased times, and longer distances. Without awareness of it then, I had lost the sense of playfulness that can make exercise so enjoyable. Getting back into basketball has reminded me what it’s like to focus on recreation and get a great workout as a side benefit. It’s so much fun!
In working with clients that struggle with eating disorders, and practicing from a Health at Every Size approach, I care about helping clients find a relationship to movement and exercise that is joyful, increases physical vitality, and promotes connection to self and others. It feels so good to be connecting to exercise in this way in my own life; to be practicing what I preach!
My favorite part of being part of the Opal Owls basketball team is the opportunity to connect and play with my colleagues outside of work. I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my co-workers outside of a clinical setting. I truly believe this experience has allowed us to feel more personally connected, which in turn helps us collaborate more effectively.
Despite what the record shows (a few more losses than wins), the Opal Owls continue to im-prove, play hard and have fun.
With many more seasons to come, Hoot Hoot!