Right now you are a super happy big fish in a small bowl and absolutely loving basketball. You don’t see yourself doing anything else with your life except shooting hoops and playing for the Opals one day. You even have the 2004 Athens Olympics Opals picture stuck on your school book! (One of the players in that picture will eventually be your teammate who you will win 3 x WNBL Championships with. Another of those players will be a pretty big coach in your career in the WNBA and Opals!) Playing for the Eastern Mavericks in Adelaide, you’ve got the height along with some skill and a whole lot of passion. But you are soon going to discover that height can only get you so far. Here comes the real hard work.
The grind and process you will go through to live out your dream will be far more challenging than you could have ever imagined. But you are so strong Cayla, and your heart is so set on your dreams of playing at the highest level, that you will not let anything, nor anyone, tell you any different. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you that it’s going to challenge you mentally day in and day out. Never get too high and never get too low. During those low times of doubt and uncertainty about yourself as a baller, just remember your love of the game and why you started playing in the first place. I promise you it will all be worth it.
I know right now you have set some big long term goals for yourself, along with some short term ones. Your short term goal of making the state team and representing SA Country at the nationals is one that you will achieve not just once, but in every single age group. Bottom age 18’s you will play for the SA Metro team (ask Neil Gliddon for more info lol). Along with this, you will also get selected to attend the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. I know you haven’t really heard much about the AIS, but this place is just the beginning of the grind. It’s the place that prepares you for what’s next, if you want it to. Here you get a taste of professional life, and most importantly the chance to represent Australia at a junior level at two World Championships. One with the under 19 Gems, and a silver medal with the under 21 Sapphires! The feeling of wearing the green and gold will become the whole reason you play basketball with such a passion and a love for the game. This drive will allow you to tick off all of your long term goals.
Long term goals; WNBL. EUROPE. WNBA. OPALS WORLD CUP. OLYMPICS.
Of course you have little goals coming out of these ones. But Cayla, you get to do all of this. As I write this I’m getting emotional. Everyone’s journey is different and you just need to stay focused, and not be concerned with things outside of your control. Don’t be consumed with trying to please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you. Some people even pretend to like you, and that’s ok because you will just shower them with love and your infectious personality anyway.
You want to know how you get through it all? The hard times? The unfair times? The times where you feel you aren’t good enough? The times you cry? The times you lose a big game? When you don’t play well? When people online aren’t saying nice things about you? When you don’t make a team? You pray and you bounce back. The quicker the bounce back the bigger the comeback! This is what will help you through it all. Your Faith. Through your journey people are aware of your love for Jesus but as you get older your voice gets even louder and you will impact many with your testimony. The lowest moments in your career will set you up for the juiciest comeback stories to add to your testimony.
Eventually you will discover that basketball is what you do but it’s not your identity, and it will shift your grid in the best way. You will start businesses. You end up marrying a younger bloke called Kailu George, he is pretty special. Your love for dogs continues with 2 of your own fur kids with plans for human kids in the near future.
Cayla, everything is going to be ok. Your hard work will pay off. You will get to experience playing this game at the highest level, and with that will come the highest level of emotions. Playing for Australia with the Opals will be some of your most cherished memories. You will make your family so proud. Stay the course and when in doubt just have a chat with the big guy beyond the clouds. He will give you a peace like no other!
Enjoy the ride girl; you are going to smash it!