College Basketball Tree of Life Christian Ohio Varsity Marietta College
When I was young, I loved a few things: God, my family and basketball. These three things molded me to who I am today and who I would become. I put God first in my life around the age of 8, and continued getting more involved in worship services at my church including mime, choir, and the usher board. My hardworking family, was next! They always wanted the best for their children, but financially there were limits. I played football, basketball and baseball but there came a time when I had to pick just one because of the financial burden. I chose basketball. This opportunity was not only something I was passionate about, but it was going to be an investment for my future. As I look back on my decision, I’m not only thankful for my choice, but I’m now in a position to help pay my family back for their investment in me (with interest)!
It wasn’t easy playing basketball though! When I first started, I was the worst player on the team. I specifically remember another bench player on my team screaming at me saying that I sucked. Those words and that memory will live with me forever. I progressed and became a good player at a small middle school in Columbus, Ohio. The school is called Tree of Life Christian. I was often picked on by my public school friends for going to Tree of Life, however, looking back on it I’m glad I stayed because Jesus met me there. I then played travel ball for a team called Ohio Varsity. I progressed in my skills over the years but my size and confidence remained neutralized because of my fear of failure. I was always good enough to make the team but didn’t realize how good I could be. My coaches saw it in me, but I didn’t see it in myself. My confidence then continued to take its toll as I was bullied in the 9th-grade. I was verbally abused because of my fear and I never stuck up for myself until this one particular day in practice when I got in a fight with a 6′ 4″ 200 pound teammate. I was only 5′ 3″ and 125 pounds (soaking wet)! This moment came in my life with a price, but one that was worth paying. I got beat up, but this was something that needed to happen in order to face one of my fears. The result of this motivated me to be better in all ways and prove to others who counted me out.
For the next three years, I started varsity in High-School. I became one of the top players in the state in my division which allowed me the opportunity to play at the next level. I now became a 1 percenter and attended Marietta College to play basketball. I knew this place was special the very first time I watched a game. It was electric and the competition was really good and I soon was going to learn that it wasn’t going to be easy as a student athlete!
This was nothing new to me. I’ve already experienced being told I wasn’t any good, kids made fun of me and others picked fights with me! Could this be worse? I was about to discover that these next few years in college were going to be even tougher than before, starting with my parents divorcing! That was terrible but more was to come. Besides school being tough, I was introduced to alcohol and drugs (got me in trouble), my sister became pregnant, I went through a break-up, I wasn’t playing, and I had not found a church home yet. All these things in life happened very quickly and I had a choice to either let these circumstances make me or break me.
Because God was inside of me, I knew that I was meant for something greater than throwing everything away, and so I made a decision to get on a better path. It was during this time when I learned about perseverance. I studied more, worked more on my game and overall started to make better choices. The results were great. I got on the Dean’s List my sophomore year. I also became an alumni and student ambassador. I became the President of Brother 2 Brother, won prizes in Entrepreneurship and ran a successful Homecoming Campaign. I coordinated a marketing campaign for Marathon Petroleum and finally found a church home that I attended almost every Sunday. I also was a leader in a Christian Fellowship group called Intervarsity in which I attended multiple conferences. The changes I made were impactful in many areas, including basketball. In my Sophomore Year, we made it to the Sweet 16 and ended up starting both my Junior and Senior Years. We became 5-time OAC Conference Champions and I led our team to the Elite 8 for only the second time in school history as a Senior. We finished with a career record of 95-23, and traveled to places beyond my belief. I don’t say this to brag, but to encourage others who are dealing with the same struggle, pain, and fear that I faced is that on the other side can be SUCCESS. I do want to share though about the one thing that remained constant, and that was the Love. Love from God, for God, from my family, for my family and love for the game of basketball.
Now, I am ready to attack the world with my degree, persistence, experience, entrepreneurial spirit and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My advice is to not look at your circumstances as a problem but look at them as an opportunity to make you better. Never consider a loss a loss, only a lesson that is preparing you for something greater. Most importantly, have faith in God. Grow a relationship with Him and watch him perform miracles in your life.
Mel, what an eventful life you've had as you grew up playing sports. It sounds as if you faced many obstacles in life and were tested on many occasions. Some of these things were of your own doing and others weren't, but you recognized that you needed to find the best path and you did. Isn't it amazing that when we do make good choices, how God allows us to see some really great results. The results may or may not always be something people see on the outside, but He sure allowed you and others to see the results such as your grades, your basketball and the Love from those around you. This is what Check Your Game is all about Mel. It's about going though life, recognizing areas to improve and then taking action which you did. Thanks again for sharing Mel and I hope you continue to use your gifts and the investment your parents helped you with to encourage others. Gary Rogers