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By Nathan Alston

Dart Scholar Reflects: When basketball is more than a game

As a child, I bounced around from sport to sport. I played pretty much every sport out there, although I never had one main sport that I was committed to. This, however, all changed at the age of 11, when I fell fully in love with basketball.

Captaining my Year 6 basketball team, I was given the first opportunity to play my sport in somewhat of an organised sense.

While I was terrible, my journey had only just begun.

When I reached middle school, I really began to see major improvements in my game. I attended training sessions and practised regularly outside on the real fundamentals of the sport. Once again, I played on my school’s Under-14 basketball team, but I was still not good or confident enough to contribute much for the team.

Surprisingly, the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 turned out to be very beneficial to improving my game. With time on my hands, I practised basketball more than ever. My schedule consisted of online school, going outside to practise, then sleep and repeat.

While outside, I worked on improving my shooting as much as possible; whether it was free throws, mid-range jumpers or long-range three-point shooting, I worked to gain as much consistency in my shot as I could.

The following year became my most prolific year yet, playing out of school in the Under-19 league (and winning) at the age of 13, then playing both U14 and U18 for my school (where the U14 team went undefeated). After all that, I rounded off the year by playing out-of-school U16, with the team coming up two points short in the championship game.

Unfortunately, due to the resurgence of COVID-19 in Cayman, basketball has been shut down for months, causing a serious impact on the steady progression I was making in my game.

nathan alston playing basketball
Nathan Alston, right, on the basketball court

But basketball has become more than just a game to play for me; it ties into other aspects of my life as well. Skills learned through basketball are also beneficial to areas of my academics. For example, basketball (and team sports in general) is extremely helpful for building skills and characteristics such as teamwork, communication skills, leadership and dealing with success and failure. Basketball has also allowed me to meet people from different places while playing and training with different teams.

I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity to play the sport I love and to have experienced all that comes with it. It plays a part in creating who I am as a person. Basketball has, and continues to make, a massive difference in my life.

Nathan Alston is a 2021 Dart High School Scholar attending Cayman Prep and High School.

This article was originally published in the March 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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