Opportunity of a Lifetime

Opportunity of a Lifetime

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BY ABBY SIROIS | This essay was selected as the 1st-Place Winner in the youth category of the Awesome Sports Writing Contest.

It was a bright and sunny summer morning in Redmond, Washington. After waking up, I went downstairs, where my dad was making breakfast. The fresh smell was wafting in the air and I could almost taste the French toast. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever.

“Good morning Abby,” my dad called.

“Good morning!”

When the French toast was done, I sat down at the table. The amazing soft texture felt perfect in my mouth. Once I was done I put my plate in the sink and grabbed my phone.  My sister got up and lazily walked down the stairs. I said hello, but she just plopped herself on a chair with her phone in her hand.

Around an hour later, my mom walked through the door.

“Wello,” she said in a cheery voice.

“Where were you?” I asked.

‘’I was just showing a house,” she replied, “Also, I got an email from Ashley, they have a camp tomorrow at Key Arena. Do you want to go?”

“Of course!”

I spent the rest of the day watching TV with my sister until bedtime. But it was hard for me to sleep that night. Excitement was coursing through my body.

The next day I popped out of bed ready to go. I didn’t want to eat too much for breakfast, so I took an apple and sat on the couch. The apple was so crisp and sweet, it tasted just like candy.

About an hour later my mom got an email that read ‘’Sorry parents and kids that are going to the Pinnacle Hoops camp. We unfortunately had a miscommunication with the workers at Key Arena. Instead, we will host the camp in Redmond High. For this, you will now get free tickets for the game tonight, and the entire camp is free, lastly you will get to meet two of the Seattle Storm players and get their autographs. You must come to the camp at Redmond High to redeem your tickets. We are sorry for any inconvenience to you and you kids, hope to see you at Redmond High. “

-Ashley Graham

Okay. So I wouldn’t get to play on the same court as the Seattle storm. But I’d still get to meet two of the players and get to go to the game for free!

We got in the car and drove to Redmond High School. When we got there, we saw people carrying boxes of Storm merchandize, such as, t-shirts, basketballs, and jerseys. As we got in I saw my coach, Ashley, at the check-in table and my best friend Ellie on the court.

Ellie and I were both early early, so we just shot around and talked. Ashley turned on some music and we started to dance.

At 11:30 Ashley blew her whistle and yelled, “Baseline, everyone!”

We started by warming up, just running and stretching. Then we started competing with ball handling skills. Doesn’t sound like a competition? Let me explain. First, you grab a partner.  Then, you have 30 seconds to see how many times you can cross-over and dribble the ball between your legs. Each time you go through your legs, your partner would count and continue. I partnered up with Ellie and we went to half court. Ashley started the clock and I was off. I went so fast, I had around 25 counts by the time we were halfway done. At the end I had 56. I was sore, my muscles burned. Ellie got 49. Most people only got around 30 or 40. I got my prize, which was 5 Doppler dollar. These are certificates you can exchange for $5 worth of snacks at the concession stand. We got into the second ball-handling drill which was crossing the ball behind my back. This drill was much harder than the first one and I was somewhat tired from the first drill. When Ellie went, and she killed it. She got 54. I only got 47. Ellie won 5 Doppler dollars. We had one more drill. Ellie and I lay down our Doppler dollars on the ground and grabbed a ball. The last drill was cross-between-behind. I went first again. This time I kept a good pace and got 30. Ellie got the same number. This time a girl with soft long black hair tied up in a high pony-tail won. Her name was Ava. I gave her a high-five.

“Water break!” Ashley yelled.

Ellie and I ran over to where our bags were and put away our doppler dollars. When we came back we had to get into groups of 4. We did a shooting drill and Ava got an autographed ball by Sue Bird. The rest of the competitions flew by, and I hadn’t won anything else. Then camp was over.

“See you later,” I said to Ellie.

“Later.”

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I found my mom in the hallway talking to Ashley.

“How was it?” My mom asked me. “Great!”

“Go say, ‘thank you’ to Ashley,” she said. I did.

“No, thank you for coming,” Ashley said, handing me the tickets for the game. “Are you going to the game?’’

“Of course!”

We drove back home. The game wasn’t until later that night, but I couldn’t focus on anything else!

We left again at 4. The drive was long and boring with my sister talking. When we arrived, I found out my seats were right next Ellie’s!

A buzzer sounded and the whole stadium got dark, as the team’s theme music played. Then the starters come out and everyone is cheered — including me. The cheering was so loud, and I was so happy.

At halftime, the Storm was leading, but not by much. At one point there was a time out and Ellie and I got on the big screen. I stood up and started dancing, bursting out laughing once the camera was off me. The game continued. As the game gots closer, my heart started pounding. Chants in the arena got louder and louder. In the end the Storm won by 7 points.

I looked around and saw people filing out of the stadium.

“Alright everyone, follow me,” Ashley said, heading onto the court.

As she walked across the court, the stadium looked so big. I better get used to it for when I play here, I thought to myself. Then I saw Sami Whitcomb and Mercedes Russell (two of the Seattle Storm benchwarmers) sitting at a table with sharpies. I asked them to sign my shirts sleeves and they did!

I was shaking with excitement when I returned to my mom. It was late when we got home, so I went right to bed.

I was lazy the next day. I got up, went to grab my phone, and sat on the couch.

“Abby, I just got an email from Ashley,” my mom said.

She started to read it. “We are very sorry for not hosting the camp in Key Arena yesterday, so we would like to make it up to you by letting your kid get a signed ball from one of the Seattle Storm players. Only 12 people can do it, so sign up quick!. Also, you will get free tickets registered under your kid’s name. you can pick up the tickets at the ticket booth.

“I signed you up for the 20th,” my mom said.

“What day did Ellie sign up for?” I asked.

“I think the 18th” my mom replied.

I didn’t say anything to my mom, but I was sad I wasn’t on Ellie’s day.

When I woke up the next day it was still early, and my mom was  asleep. Eventually my mom woke up and came in to check on me.

“Ashley sent out a new email,” my mom said. “We are supposed to meet outside of section 118 with any Pinnacle Hoops shirt. Also, Ashley accidentally registered you for the 18th”

I grinned on the inside. I was happy. I couldn’t wait for the 18th!

A day and a half later, I started the morning by getting my phone. It read Wednesday July 18th in small white letters. I was so excited, I jumped out of bed.

When we arrived at the stadium, I saw Ava,  and another blonde hair girl whose name I don’t know. But Ellie wasn’t there.

We waited around for what seemed like forever. The crowd was now 10 people, still no Ellie. Then out of the corner of my eye I spotted her short black hair. “Yes,” I said to myself.

“Meet you at our seats,” I said to my mom. She headed off.

We followed one of the staff members down near the court into the tunnel. It was so cool. We saw the dance team hanging out. Also, there were about a million metal bars under the place where people sat. everyone chatted away until another staff member told us what to do. I could barely listen. The only thing I picked up on was that we went out after the music played.

Then it was time! My body was shaking as we went out onto the court. We jogged over to the player tunnel. What player would I get? When the players started coming out, I high-fived the first two. Then, Courtney Paris handed me a ball and I quickly ran over to the baseline. Once everyone got their ball, we ran back over to the stairs and broke off. Ellie and I ran over to where our moms were sitting. I was still amazed by what just happened. The game was a blowout and the Storm won!

The next few months flew by. Around a month and a half later, I was at a basketball camp. When I got home from the camp, my mom had something to tell me.

“So, Abby today I got an email from the boys and girls club that there is a camp that only 100 kids can go to,” my mom said. “You get to train with the starting five from the Seattle Storm,” she said, smiling. “I signed you up!”

I couldn’t believe it. I started screaming and jumping. ME train with future WNBA champions! I am so lucky.  

“It’s only an hour long. And it’s in between games one and two of the finals,” my mom said.

That’s next weekend, I thought to myself. And school starts tomorrow. The first day of school was a whirlwind. The next days were similar because we were just getting into the flow of things, like fish in a river. The weekend had finally come.

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I woke up with the biggest smile on my face. I got ready super quick. Then my dad and I hopped in the car and drove to Seattle. The car ride went super-fast this time. We finally arrived. We went inside and got a free Jr. NBA t-shirt. I tried peeking inside the gym, but none of the players were there. We waited for about 10 minutes until a tall guy came out.

“Kids and parents, follow me to where you can be seated until the camp begins,” he said, opening a door to a bunch of stairs.

After what felt like three hours of waiting, the same guy came up to get us. He only brought the kids down this time. Then they split us up by age group. Then we had to wait again. It felt like they were never going to start! A lady with a microphone started to explain what we would do when the players came in.

Finally, the players came in and high-fived the middle rows (which I was in). The lady handed the mic to Sue Bird, who introduced her teammates. Once they were done with introductions we started stations. I couldn’t believe it! I got to meet Breanna Stewart, Jewell Lloyd, Alysha Clark, Natasha Howard, and Sue Bird.

There were 6 stations. Cardio with a guest coach, shooting with Jewell Lloyd, defense with Natasha Howard, layups with Alysha Clark, passing with Breanna Stewart, and, lastly, ball handling with Sue Bird. Stations went by fast.

After stations we got a Q&A session with the players. I stood up and asked, “When did you guys start playing basketball?” Most of them responded with 2nd or 3rd grade. But Jewell said 7th, which is late for basketball. Once the Q&A session was over we took a group photo.  

Lastly, the camp was over, and everyone went home. I was speechless and happy. Now I have trained with WNBA champions.

This event was amazing. I got an amazing opportunity. If you ever get a chance like this, make sure you take advantage of it. You never know what can come out of it. And never take anything for granted.

The Awesome Sports Writing Contest is an annual writing contest to inspire voices in girls’ and women’s sports. This contest was made possible by the generous donation of our readers and supporters through our GoFundMe campaign. Please donate to make our 2020 contest possible!




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