Davis Henley, a sophomore student athlete currently participating in basketball. He discussed the lessons he has learned by playing sports: mental toughness, leadership, and selflessness.
"My dad always tell me before games to “Play Big.” Even though I might be shorter than a lot of other players, if I have the right mindset and play with the confidence and toughness of someone who is 6’7, then I can play a great game."
I began playing sports at a very young age and they have been a huge part of my life ever since. Each sport I have played has formed me into the person I am today. I have played soccer, golf, baseball, and football, but the one sport that has always stood out to me is basketball.
Sometimes I wonder if being a student athlete is really worth all of the hard work that comes with it. Going to Coram Deo and playing sports can definitely be a big struggle. Balancing homework with sports can be very tricky, but when I get on the basketball court with my teammates, all of the late nights doing homework and stressful days at school are worth it. I could go on forever talking about all of the lessons that basketball has taught me, but three of the most important lessons it has taught me are mental toughness, leadership, and selflessness.
Basketball has taught me how to be mentally tough. Basketball is 50% physical and 50% mental. You have to always keep confidence in yourself no matter how bad of a game you may be having. I started playing basketball in 1st grade for my local YMCA league and then began playing competitive tournaments a few year later. When I played YMCA I was able to rely on my athleticism to play well. But when I began playing tournaments, I was no longer the quickest player and everyone else was freakishly tall. I was not used to being the one of the least athletic players on my team.
I had to adjust to the circumstance I was in. I knew I could not let the size and speed of all of the other players affect how I played. This is where I learned to become mentally tough. Even when you are in a slump, you can’t let anything get in your head that will make you have a bad game. You have to tell yourself that you are going to have a good game even when the odds are against you.
My dad always tell me before games to “Play Big.” Even though I might be shorter than a lot of other players, if I have the right mindset and play with the confidence and toughness of someone who is 6’7, then I can play a great game.
The next lesson basketball has taught me is leadership. As a point guard, I am supposed to be the quarterback on the court. I need to know all the plays like the back of my hand and tell all of my other teammates what to do. I used to be a quiet player. I would not tell any of my teammates what they need to do, I was silent.
Over time I have slowly become better at communicating to my teammates. Being a leader on the basketball court allows me to be a better leader off the court. A leader tells people what they are doing wrong and need to fix so that they don’t embarrass themselves later by making the same mistakes. Basketball allows me to grow as a leader every day.
Finally, basketball has taught me the importance of selflessness. This year is my first year of playing varsity basketball but I got to watch a lot of the varsity games last year. What I noticed about last year’s team is that they did not play well as a team. It wasn’t five players on the court playing as one team, but it was five players playing as individuals.
A lot of the players played selfishly and only cared how well they played themselves, not how well the team played as a whole. This year, the basketball team has become much better even after losing so many players. This team does not care who has the ball or who scores. We play very selflessly which causes us to have amazing teamwork which sets us apart from many other teams. This team has taught me that if you play selflessly, then there is no team that you can’t beat.
Playing sports may seem as a waste of time or a distraction to some people. But deciding to play sports was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Even if you don’t want to play sports competitively, I urge everyone to give it a try. You will make many friends and the lessons you learn on the way will stick with you for the rest of your life.