2019 – Jennica Hess – HWRA – Northridge HS
Adversity creates opportunities to become stronger and more resilient when you put in your best effort to overcome. While you can’t always control the situations you find yourself in, you can change the way you view them and choose to react with positivity. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but you will be better in the future because of it. In my senior year of high school, I have learned these things and so much more through a heartbreaking injury.
Ever since I was little, I’ve loved sports and the excitement I get every time I have opportunities to play. I am someone who lives for competition and being a part of something that’s bigger than me. Over the years, I have put my heart and soul into many different sports and individual teams, but nothing has surpassed my love for basketball. I first fell in love with the game in fifth grade and have been on multiple competitive teams and school teams since. My passion only grew as I developed strong relationships with my teammates and worked hard with coaches and trainers to improve my skills. Throughout high school, I have been able to play varsity as a sophomore and earn a place in the starting lineup as a junior while accomplishing many team goals along the way. As I prepared for my senior season, I was beyond excited and worked extremely hard individually to be the best I could be.
When the season approached, I was elected one of the captains and loved being able to lead practices and represent my team. Sadly, the time I was able to spend on the court was short lived. In our third pre-season game, I had an unfortunate landing after going up hard to score in an intense play. As I came down, my right knee popped to the inside and I collapsed to the ground. I began yelling for help and cried many tears as I fought the pain, disappointment, and fears of what may be in store. After a few doctor visits, I found out I had completely torn my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and partially tore my meniscus in two places which would require surgery and keep me from playing the rest of the season. It was devastating to hear my worst fears spoken out loud by the doctor.
The greatest challenge was continuing to support my basketball team at games and practices under my circumstances. It was hard emotionally to watch my teammates play without me and encourage them when I was in pain. However, I desired to be someone who my teammates could look up to and knew my attitude and actions would affect my team whether for good or bad. Although it was hard, it gave me an opportunity to develop resilience and strength to overcome. I did my very best to be positive and encouraged my teammates to never take anything for granted. I was able to develop even closer friendships as girls came to me with experiences they were going through. I shortly realized what was most important and took advantage of the opportunities I had to strengthen those around me. It has not been easy to miss out on social experiences and unable to do the things I enjoy most, especially with it being my senior year. However, as I have set new goals and faced opposition with positivity I have learned how to be happy despite the circumstances. I may not have achieved success in the eyes of other people, but as I have measured my accomplishments in ways that don’t involve points scored, assists, or rebounds I have become stronger.
To all those who are struggling with adversity, whatever it may be, I would encourage you to embrace those around you and focus on the things you can control. You aren’t defined by your situations, but rather by the way you pick yourself back up. As you jump over the hurdles put in your path, you will become a positive influence for others to follow. Establish goals that are attainable and pursue them passionately. Focus on the things that bring you joy and don’t let anyone, or anything stop you from being who you are meant to be.
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