Glory Days


Baylee and I with tears in our eyes after our last ever game together 


The voices in my head are deafening. Or is it just my heart rate pounding in my ears? Either way, I’m completely inside of my own head. Tracing overplays and trying to calm my anxious and nervous jitters–it is ten minutes until game time. 

As I make my way out of the locker room with my team in tow, my adrenaline starts to pump. My heart is beating out of my chest, and I can’t decide if I want to throw up or smile. 

“Introducing the Washington School Lady Generaaaaaaals” echoes through my high school gym that always smelled like the most nostalgic mix of sweat and popcorn and sounded like shoes squeaking on a new coat of floor wax and whistles. And always felt like home. 

The final home game of my senior year carried so much. It was the game that determined where we would be ranked in the playoffs. The playoffs that would decide how many more times I got to lace up my ankle braces and wear the #33 jersey. Cue the throw-up once again. 

I started crying before we even came out of the locker room. Looking around that old, dirty locker coated in blue and gold for possibly the last time stirred up a whole orchestra of emotion. 

Honestly, it could have been the championship, or it could have simply been just another Tuesday during basketball season. Either way, the rush of gametime always felt the same. 

And I had a hard time accepting the fact that one day that feeling of coursing adrenaline and focus would be only a memory. 


8:00, 1Q

Eight minutes on the clock in the first quarter. I walked to the center of the court, getting ready to jump. Just as I had done for the past 8 years, I turned around to look at my point guard, Baylee, to nod my head. The direction of the nod was never significant as far as the game was concerned. It really didn’t communicate anything other than “if I can’t play hard for myself, I’ll play hard for you.”

The game started with the tip, and the crowd behind me immediately became a muffled roar, just as it always did. I can still hear my dad asking me in the car ride home after every game, “Did you hear me yelling, Mollie? I was telling you to shoot!” 

Every time I told him, “Yes, of course I heard you!” But I didn’t. I never did. I only heard the other players or my coach telling me to run 5-out-1-in or to get in the full-court press. But I knew that he was just happy to be able to say those things, and I was always happy to pretend I heard him.

The first quarter of any game always helped to get my nerves out. Those first eight minutes felt like the best mix of being dizzy but alive. That is the game of basketball.


8:00 2Q

Eight minutes on the clock once again. Okay, here we go. The second quarter was always the most important because you wanted to be up at halftime. There was not much worse than going into the locker room at the half trailing behind because that almost always entailed a whole bunch of “What in the hell are y’all doing out there!?” And not to mention a fair share of “Damn it, Mollie! Block out for Christ’s sake.” 

Some players never get used to the seemingly harsh criticisms that sometimes shoot from the coach’s mouth and onto your skin like boiling water. But I never minded it. It made me want to do better–be better–not because my coach told me so. But because I had a whole team counting on me to do so.

If I couldn’t play hard for myself, I would play hard for them. Always.

From the crowd, it’s hard to see anything more than a lot of back and forth, running up and down the court. There’s a lot of yelling about plays and presses and rebounds. There’s a lot of hand signals and passing high fives. While the crowd sees a lot, they don’t feel what the players do.

Indeed, what I felt when the soles of my worn-out and blood-stained shoes hit the hardwood is like no other. It’s difficult to explain a feeling so strong. It’s magnetic and electric. It’s what every player who truly loves the game feels. As Baylee says, every time we put on those jerseys, there was nothing that didn’t come “straight from the heart.”



There is so much more to the game of basketball than just a ball and ten players on the court. There is heart, emotion, passion, anger, bliss, defeat, weariness, but most of all, there is love. A love so powerful that it kept me coming back day after day and year after year for more bruises and more blackeyes. 

There is nothing on this earth that compares to the feeling of playing a sport you love. Even now, I think back to those games where all I could do was cry no matter what emotion was involved. Whether I was heartbroken, enraged, or even so freaking happy, it was a feeling so strong that it could only come out in tears. 

Unfortunately, sometimes, especially in women’s basketball, that emotion is taken as weakness. Female players are thought to be too emotional when they cry during a game or after. Fans will say, “it’s just a game. Be tougher.”

But it is far from “just a game,” and those who never played will never understand that. But those of us who ran countless agonizing suicides because another player was faster, shot free throws after practice until our arms felt like wet spaghetti noodles because we missed one in the game the night before, and those of us who would give the world for one more minute on the clock understand. 

I wish we knew that we were living in the glory days before they were gone. Because, now that I realize they have passed, all I can do is smile and shed a tear.