Dec. 1, 2005
Throughout the season an Illinois women's basketball player will post her thoughts on fightingillini.com in a weekly blog. In the third installment this week, freshman Danielle Gratton talks about taking risks, a tough decision and life on the bus.
Dec. 1, 2005 Women's Basketblog - Danielle Gratton
To start off I would just like to send you my best holiday wishes and it is my hope that this blog finds you at your best during the holiday season...
Why do so many of us shy away from challenges? Maybe challenges isn't even the right word, what about risks. Yes, risks, that's better. Why do we shy away from taking them? Are we afraid of succeeding and having to compete on the next level, or are we afraid of failing and closing the door on something that now can be no longer achieved?
We need to start living our lives and taking risks. I am not saying you should go jump out of a plane or go bungee jumping. All I am saying is we need take a step back from our lives and stop being comfortable with where we are at this given point. We need to elevate to the next level - strive for it. It doesn't matter whether it's in basketball, work, or life in general. We all had dreams as a kid. Okay, I take that back. We all still have dreams. Why should we put them on the back burner and save them for a day that will never come? We need to seize the opportunities when they present themselves. I do not want to mislead you, doing this is not easy. I myself hesitated to take a risk.
I am the youngest of four. I have two sisters and one brother. One of my sisters, April, is 17 months older than me. We get along unusually well and growing up it was our dream to play basketball in college. As you could imagine we played together all our lives. We had a bit of a "sister sense" on the court. During our games we complimented each other well. People loved watching us play together and we loved playing with each other. After playing three years of high school basketball it was time for her to graduate. At first I didn't think I could even make it without her. After all she was my leader, my mentor, my best friend, and my favorite teammate to play with. My senior year of high school was different, I had to step up and be the vocal leader. I had to take care of myself instead of standing behind my sister.
The most difficult decision thus far in my life was which college to attend. It wasn't so much narrowing down the universities, in fact, after my first visit to the University of Illinois, I knew that I would commit there. The problem lied with leaving someone that made me who I was. My sister and I had the opportunity to play with each other in college - a dream of ours ever since we were younger. The decision was put all on me. She was already attending a mid major Division I university to play basketball. Part of me wanted me to attend my sisters' college. After all, I loved playing with April and even more so, I loved her. However, it had also been a dream of mine to play at a major Division I university, especially in the Big Ten. I knew I would be cheating myself if I did not take the opportunity to compete at the next level and allow myself to be challenged. Obviously, I decided to attend the U of I.
After I made my decision to attend here, a lot of things went through my head. Deep down in my heart I knew I did the right thing for me and at the same time I knew I was going to miss playing with my sister. It was a risk I had to take. It was time for me to come out of my sister's shadow. It was then that I learned she wasn't the one standing in front of me - I was the one standing behind her.
That's the thing, sometimes we get so engulfed in our obstacles we don't realize that if we take a couple steps back we will see exactly how to get around them. It's all about taking a different approach and seeing the whole picture. Too many times we limit ourselves. If you are putting your dreams on hold because you are surrounded by people you love that truly care about you, maybe you are missing something. Do they need you in their life or is it that you need them in yours? Don't be afraid of taking a risk and finding out who you are and what you're truly made of. I took a risk and I found myself at a college I love, at a level that challenges me everyday, and surrounded by new people whom I love and care about. So as a wise person always says to me, "Be content but never satisfied."
That's how Michael Jordan played. There was never a game where he walked away and was satisfied with his play. Although I'll probably never meet him, I will have the chance to play at the United Center this weekend. We leave Friday for our game against St. Louis Saturday. We'll take the bus there. I don't mind traveling - actually I kind of enjoy the road trips. Most likely, I'll be spending most of my time on the bus studying with one of the best classmates and teammates, Chelsea Gordon. It's not that Chels and I have to study, we just enjoy learning so much. In fact, I bet Danyel Crutcher will join in the fun to satisfy her hunger for learning. When I'm not studying on the bus I'll either be yapping my head off or watching film with one of the coaches, it all seems to make the trip go faster. Of course if that doesn't work I'll reside to my seat with my IPod in hand and treat myself to a nap. Have no worries I'll be ready for the game as will all my teammates. After all, this is what we live for. Go Illini!