Nettin' with Nneka
Nneka presented with the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award.
I hope you all liked my first blog and look forward to many more! So much has happened since I last spoke with you all. If you have been keeping up with the WNBA and playoffs, you may very well know that we advanced to the conference final s. Though we did fall short to Minnesota, as I rapped up my rookie season as an LA Spark, I have so many wonderful experiences to look back on. From the 2012 WNBA Draft to the Western Conference Finals, I enjoyed every single minute of my rookie season.
In hindsight, being selected to the Los Angeles Sparks was a blessing in and of itself. I was so happy to not move too far from where I had graduated school. Initially, I had heard a lot of things on what to expect from training camp and playing professionally and quite frankly, I was a little nervous. Upon starting my new life, though, joining a new team in a new city greatly exceeded my expectations. My team was awesome, the program and staff was supportive, and we saw early success with a lot of early wins.
As the season continued, we, as a team, experienced a lot of ups and a few downs. I learned that it can be tough going through slumps in the season, but quickly learned that it’s all up to you to keep getting better on your own in order to contribute to the teams collective success. Personally, I would lift and condition on my own, regulate my diet, and engage in a lot of recovery to keep myself ready and prepared for practice and the games. As the season drew to a close, it was almost more important to maintain physical health as it was to stay mentally healthy. As many of you may know, playoff time can be very stressful and keeping a level head, but also relieving stress can relax you and remind you of why you’re playing: to have fun!!!
Even though we didn’t advance as far as we had hoped, I was so excited to have been a part of the reconstruction of our team. Though in the end we had lost, we use the loss to motivate us for next season, to be better and do better by each other and for each other. Whether it’s honing our individual skills or maintaining team chemistry, anything and everything we didn’t do our best this year, will be better next year. It is important to learn from our experiences and make your vulnerabilities your strengths the next time around.
Though you all may not be beginning a rookie season in the WNBA, I know that there are several of you that are starting your first year as a basketball player, on a different AAU team, playing high school ball, or playing for a university. Whatever level you are, you must realize that we are all going through the same things. It is important to stay motivated and driven to always get better. Even at my level, I am still learning. Be a good teammate, have fun, don’t play outside of your comfort zone, do what you do best, and don’t worry about the rest. If you stick to what you know and are good at, the rest will come with hard work and discipline. Don’t EVER discourage yourself or let others do so either. You are the only person that will allow that stuff to affect as you begin this new stage in your basketball career. As long as you fall back on why the game is played (BECAUSE IT’S FUN) you can never go wrong!
Good luck to all of you guys!! I know it’s a change and can be scary, but change is good; change is a challenge. Now step up to the challenge and conquer it!
Ever wanted to ask Nneka something? Now YOU can. Tweet your question using the hashtag #AskNneka to @AAU__Basketball and she could answer YOUR question in her next blog.
Follow Nneka on Twitter at @Nnemkadi30