Why I Play – Sara Nealy

Growing up, I was always into sports. I played both soccer and basketball, and soccer was my main sport for a while. However, shortly after, I became to fall more and more in love with basketball. I became a crazy competitor in whatever I was doing. Growing up with two younger brothers, I always loved competing with them no matter what we were doing together. I fell in love with the thrill and excitement that basketball continued to bring me every time I walked onto the court.

I have been playing basketball for as long as I can remember. Basketball was always something that I admired and really fell in love with the game when I started playing competitively, going from one game on the weekends too as many as six or seven games in a single weekend. As I went through middle school, basketball influenced my decision as to where I would want to attend high school. Both of my older sisters were at Valor, and the basketball program and coach were amazing, so Valor was a pretty easy decision for me to make. God called me to Valor, and it is easily the best decision I have ever made.

My first year at Valor was amazing. That was Coach Jess’ second year here, coming off of a State Championship from the previous, looking for one this season as well. My freshman year of basketball really opened my eyes, I really just wanted everything to be handed to me without having to work for it at all. That kind of attitude landed me a spot on JV. This was an amazing experience and I loved playing for Coach Lowther. However, after the JV season ended I got the opportunity to be able to swing up to Varsity for the playoffs. As practices began, I truly saw all the hard work that needed to be put into play on the Championship team at such a high level. I realized that my attitude towards working on the court needed to change. That year, we won state for the second time in a row, and it was the best moment so far of my high school career. Coach Jess demanded excellence of her players on the court, and that’s what I saw as we made our run for our second straight title.

Basketball has introduced me to some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Having the opportunity to play under Coach Jess has been amazing, she has taught me so many life lessons and skills that I will be able to use my entire life on and off the court. She taught me that everything must be earned, and nothing was going to be handed to me, and that lesson has shaped me into the player that I am today. Growing up with my teammates the last four years has given me the opportunity to have life long friends. Growing up playing under the coaching staff has given me mentors that taught me how to shine through God’s light, and taught me the true reason as to Why I Play. I play for the love of the game and the thrill I get every time I lace up my shoes. God blessed me with this amazing game and it is a special feeling that will hold a place in my life forever.