Rosie Westerbeck, former first-team all-state player from Minster High School, reflected back on her trip to the Pittsburgh Top 100 Showcase, speaking to 120 players on giving back to their communities. Here is Rosie’s blog post on the special day:
It has been about a week since I got to share my real life story at the first ever Pittsburgh Top 100 Girls Basketball event. Over the past week I took some time to reflect upon the happenings of that day…
Jim and I woke up very early and traveled to the school where the event was showcased at. While I was walking into the school, I had to pause and take in the cool, spring air. The smell of a dewy morning, with wet grass and hot coffee. Instantly it hit me… AAU season. This scene is the exact setting for a typically tournament day! And the weirdest part was… I wasn’t nervous! Usually when walking into a tournament or showcase, you get all nervous and the adrenaline starts pumping because there is good competition waiting for you in the gym, and not to mention all the college coaches watching you! But, this time was different. As I took a deep breath, I thought to myself, “I should be nervous because that’s how this goes, right?”
But, no! It felt AMAZING walking into the gym on Saturday morning and NOT having a single ounce of nervousness run throughout my body. Now let me take you through the rest of my day…
From the moment I was greeted by Sean and all the other coaches, I knew that it was going to be a great day! Everyone seemed energized and enthusiastic about being at the gym! It is always a pleasure for me to meet new people, and this time was no different! Once the girls started arriving, I knew that my energy would sky rocket. I thrive off of being around people, and even more so when the people around me share similar passions.
I began working at the front table where I would take the girls name, and give them their group numbers, and then proceed to holler down the line to get their jersey. This process seemed silly at first, but once we got in the jive of things, it flowed perfectly. It was, as I call it, controlled chaos.
I started to notice something neat about what the players were carrying. It wasn’t just their typical bag of with shoes and a water bottle… can you guess what it might be? it can be entertaining, comforting, silly, and maybe even flashy… Well, if you guessed toys, you were right!
While in Pitt, we decided that it would be a great opportunity to conduct a Red Wagon Campaign. For more information on my nonprofit project, check out my facebook, twitter, and instagram. Yes Jim, you read that correctly, TWITTER! I now have twitter.
The best part about the gifts that the girls brought in, is that all of it will stay local! So, these girls are directly impacting the lives of the patients in their area.
The girls did drills and skill work in the morning, but then in the afternoon the competition real started! Each team played three games, and in between one of those games the girls spent some time with me. Before I tell you what I spoke about and how I felt about it, I want to inform you that I had the privilege of people to over 140 of the absolute best high school girls basketball players in the Pittsburgh area…to this date marks one of the largest events I’ve ever spoken at. Not quite the largest, but I’m getting there 🙂
This event was pretty outstanding to me because for the first time in my entire life, I got real about my life. 100%, completely, raw and truthful about my life experiences. From the struggle of first grade which lead to the start of the Red Wagon Campaign, to the triumphs of basketball, and yeah, the depressing side of basketball, college decisions, and my family. Guys, for the very very very first time, I was #fearless in sharing my story.
The bulk of my chat with the girls was about the importance of being more than an athlete. And by that I mean, giving back to the community. You see, high school varsity athletes are like the celebrities of the town. They are the “cool kids” of the school. Because they are great athletes, by default they acquire a great deal of leadership and influence. These athletes don’t realize the power that is within them, and no, not just the power to win games! Every single one of these athletes are passionate about something other than basketball. Whether it would be reading, painting, writing, hiking, or mentoring, (etc.) there IS volunteer work for whatever they love doing.
Because guess what? Basketball ends. Sports end. Who you are at the end of the day, when you have nothing left to prove on the court, field, of arena, that’s what matters. Not how many championships your team won, how many points you scored, how many MVP’s you got, or if you won Player of the Year… none of that matters. Sure, it proves how hard you worked and how passionate you are about the sport, but unless you positively impact the life of another person, all of that is worthless. Like Mark 8:36 says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the gospel will save it. Whatdoes it profita manto gainthewholeworld,yetforfeithissoul?” What is it worth if you win all these awards, play college ball, and win the “most awesome-coolest-richest-famous-important-everyone wants to be you- AWARD,” and yet you don’t know who you truly are without a ball in your hand…
It is absolutely vital for student athletes to know their core values. They must know who and what they stand for, or else their circumstances will begin to define those for them. I encourage whoever is reading this to ask yourself, who am I? I mean truly ask yourself! If ___ would end today, and I would have nothing left to “define” me, who would I be? If you remove all the worldly labels of yourself, who are you? (by worldly, I mean: athlete, businessperson, famous, rich, smart). If you are having trouble finding that, try think if words such as kind, loving, enthusiastic, family and friend oriented, selfless, disciplined (or in other words: the Fruit of the Spirit).
My core values? Service and Enthusiasm. Actually in high school, I remember this one time the whole team met in the conference room, and coach Nann Stechschulte handed us note cards. She made every single one of us write down our role on the team. Sure, I was a scorer, shooter, rebounder, passer… but you want to know what I put down as my #1 role on the team? Cheerleader. Nann laughed at that one. But I was, and still am completely serious. I value encouraging others and bringing energy more than anything else!
*as a side note: Nann, if you are reading this… you are a legend. Champions win trophies (and you aren’t a stranger to that) but, legends win legacies. Your wins could stand on their own, but they don’t. There is so much depth to those wins. Your care, enthusiasm, work ethic, love, and passion for the basketball breathes life into the game. In the essence of reader’s attention spans and page length, I will never have enough of either to express my thanks for you. I had never felt such an abundance of joy and love for basketball than when I came to Minster. I felt valued more as a person rather than just a basketball player. Your ability to bring out the best in all the players you coach is a special gift. Your players never leave the program the same. I entered your gym as an immature player, yet still ambitious young lady, and I left as a mature and well-rounded young woman. You didn’t just equip the me for the next game, but you equipped me for LIFE! I am me today, because of you in my life. Faith, family, school, basketball. I love you long time, Nann.
Coach Wiss, Duffers, Shelly, and Deron, you are all very significant in my life as well. Minster High School Basketball is legendary because of you guys!
I shared some personal things in my talk with the girls, and it was incredibly freeing. If you know me, you probably know that I am super-duper positive and energetic person! Actually, I pride myself on that! Even in the tough times, I manage to find the positive and empathetic point of view. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. In fact, there were nights where I didn’t sleep after games. I would be wide awake all night, tossing and turning because I replayed the mistakes I made in my head. I expected my best, and if I didn’t deliver like I thought I should have, I beat myself up for it. Even if we won the game, I still felt like I let my team down in some way, shape, or form. Now, I look back and realize how crazy it was of me to be so hard on myself like that.
It was stories like this, that I got to release. There were areas of my life in high school that were difficult, and you know what? It’s totally and completely OKAY! By going through some of those struggles, I now can relate to these girls (and others) on a deeper level. Being broken, and admitting you’re broken, is the first step in connecting with people. Audiences don’t want to hear how well you manage to keep your life in order, nor do they want to hear how perfect and successful you are. People want to hear real stuff. They want to hear that even tho you struggled, you made it through, and maybe they can too. It’s really all about inspiring and encouraging people. It just so happens that I went through the same thing these girls are going through now!
It was absolutely a pleasure to speak with these girls, share my story, and let them know that I am proud of them. That I value them more than their athletic ability. And that they too, can make a difference!
If you would like to know the nitty, gritty, details of my life or the more serious things that I released to the girls, I’d love to come speak to your group!
Thanks to Jim and Sean, and everyone else who made this event possible.
Love you all!