I’ve been hearing the phrase “follow your dreams” a lot lately.
“One day I will follow my dream. And I will open up a restaurant."
“I’m just doing this for now so someday I can really follow my dream.”
“What are you doing here? Go follow your dream!”
So, let me ask you--
Are you following your dream?
I’m going to be honest here.
I hate that question. I truly believe some people just don’t have the luxury. Many are forced to pay massive student-loans right out of college. Many are primarily focused on putting food on the table for the night.
But some are just too scared. Some don’t want to take the risk.
For those people out there— I want to say, stop running from your insecurities. Run straight to them.
When I stepped foot onto the campus of UCLA, for the first time ever, I felt like I truly accomplished “my dream.”
It has always been my dream, ever since I was a little girl, to play basketball in front of huge crowds, have people know my name, and make whichever team I was on better than I found it.
I wanted to change the game. I didn’t just want to be the next Skylar Diggins. I wanted to be better than Skylar Diggins.
Even after my first three years of college basketball, I still felt like I was searching. I felt as if whatever dream I had worked up in my fantasies since I was a little girl was all a myth. I felt as if it couldn’t be attainable for me. I saw it happen to other girls, and they seemed happy, but when I looked in the mirror I only saw how sad I truly was.
I felt as if dreams didn’t really exist.
But then I came to UCLA.
I lived my dream at this school.
And because of this school, I’m living my dream now.
These girls may not realize it. They might still be caught up in all the drama.
The playing time trials, the pity parties, the schoolwork, the struggle with time management, etc., but one day, one day they will wake up and realize that they are living their dream.
Jordin Canada is breaking record after record.
Monique Billings is doing things that no other post her size has ever done before.
Lindsey Corsaro is a leader of the team as a redshirt freshman.
Chrissy Baird is a living legend for walk-ons everywhere.
Japreece Dean is proving that second chances spark monumental beginnings.
Michaela Onyenwere is showing that freshman can be playmakers too.
Kelli Hayes is reinventing what it looks like to be a student-athlete.
Kayla Owens is a confident killer, who shoots with a smile on her face.
Kennedy Burke is on the cusp of being one of the greatest guards to play at UCLA.
Ally Rosenblum is following in her father’s footsteps, 20 years later.
Lauryn Miller is putting on for her city, every single time she laces up her shoes.
Lajahna Drummer is transforming strong into beautiful.
Chantel Horvat is family, even when her own lives 8,000 miles away.
If you don’t ever go out on a limb, if you don’t ever take that risk, you’ll never know what could have been.
These girls put in the work. They signed on the dotted line and left comfortable for uncomfortable.
And look where they are now.
They're among the stars, living their dream.
It's 5:15pm and I’m sippin’ a java with Lindsey Corsaro in Santa Monica.
It’s Christmas break.
Everyone’s favorite time of year. It’s when the girls get to focus on one thing and one thing only— basketball.
And then after basketball…
Instead of cramming for midterms, cranking out a 5-page paper, or stressing over that calculus homework you forgot how to do, you get to sit back, relax, and do as professional basketball players do.
Just for a month you get to take the student out of student-athlete.
You take a little extra time in the ice bath. You shoot a few more shots than normal. You study the scout a little more. You really embrace your role.
And then afterwards… it's back to play.
Everyone else on campus is gone. Football’s over. The students are back home drinking eggnog with mom and dad. But the men’s and women’s basketball teams? They’re in the gym.
December 26th is never an easy date. The clock strikes 5:30pm and practice begins. The few days you’re allotted for break whizz by. The Holiday Ham catches up with you too. It’s especially not easy for the long distance bunch. I remember leaving for school on Christmas night one year. Some coaches even schedule practice Christmas Day. But as hard as it might be, once everyone arrives back on campus, your family #2 steps right into its role.
Whether it’s movie nights, coffee runs, late night walks through an empty campus, lunch dates with the men’s team, or Groupon Six Flags splurges post-practice, the team really gets to enjoy their time as teammates.
I feel like it’s time to truly bond with your sisters. You have no worries in the world. All you have to do is play basketball, eat, and sleep. An athlete’s dream come true.
There’s something special about giving your all for a common cause. About waking up early, staying late, surrendering a few days of Christmas break, getting to know your teammates on a different level, and dedicating every waking moment with a group of people all in search of the same goal.
The girls may not be at home, they may feel lonely or miss the familiar feeling of family, but Christmas break is when the second family is born. It’s when it solidifies the team, its togetherness, and its dedication.
It's when practices become battlefields.
It's when teammates sacrifice as sisters.
It’s when team becomes family.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our UCLA Basketball Family to yours!