PRESSURE (…is a good thing)

In honor of March Madness NCAA Basketball Championship Game Day (Men’s and Women's) is a grade eight short speech written about the pressure of an athlete from a 13 yr. old girls perspective.  As a parent of a child who has encountered obstacles and social interference about her basketball dreams and aspirations she stays strong and determined. The RISE (Realize Individual Success Everyday) Centre is a vision and concept many high-level sport professionals have embraced. McMaster University Athletes Edge will train our athletes at a level proven for success. The RISE will give extraordinary athletes learning opportunities through The Hill Basketball Academy to flourish and guide in their athletic endeavours. I am very proud of Aerial Wilson’s perspective of life on and off the court. I hope you too enjoy how this young lady is dealing with the “PRESSURE” to pursue her basketball dreams.

Aerial Wilson 2

PRESSURE

by Aerial Wilson, March 01-2015

Small. Misshapen. Insignificant. A lump of coal! Ordinary, yet extraordinary, but what happens once it is under pressures of 725 000 pounds per square inch? What happens to a black piece of rock that does well under pressure? It becomes a diamond.

The most beautiful things are created from pressure, like us as individuals. Some can thrive under pressure and some of us will bow down and succumb to it. Those of us, who have the right mentality, come out of the fire as diamonds. They’re the peak performers that not only have trained and worked hard, but won't crumble when the time approaches to make their dreams come true. They can perform in high-pressure situations without surrendering to their doubt demons. They’re the one’s titled “Most Valuable Player”, the one’s who hit the game-winning buzzer beater shots, they’re the clutch players who can play and push through adversity. They’re the ones who attack life as a challenge, not a threat.

We all choke, but what separates two people with the same skill set is how they perform due to pressure. What’s your skill worth if you can never use it when it matters? You can have all the talent in the world but if you can’t use it in a game, it’s worthless. Pressure is always viewed as a negative, but that is just a mental roadblock keeping you from peaking. You can perform either 15% worse or 15% better under pressure. Those who are successful feed off the pressure to maximize their full potential, but in order to perform with more proficiency you must have a positive mindset. It is a proven fact that those who face high-pressure situations with a challenge state have blood flow more efficiently to their brain allowing them to have control over their thoughts and emotions. Where when we approach the same situations with a threat state our blood vessels constrict, causing us to cease up, hindering our ability to think and therefore perform at our best.

Nausea, sweaty palms, dry-mouth, about to throw up any second. I’m sure we’ve all felt it. Sure it’s because I’m nervous, but what’s there to be nervous about it’s just another game, I’ve played amazing on countless occasions before, I’m a good player. If I go out there and play a terrible game or lose it’ll be okay. Worst-case scenario: I’ll go home and sleep. No. I’m older now, and getting exposure, I have to play well in practice to get playing time and prove that I’m the best on the court. I can’t have a slump, because you never know who’s watching. It could be scouts, the team Ontario or Canada coach, or anyone who wanted to watch our game because they’re recorded. I want to do well so badly, I want to get noticed, want to play my best; I have to play my best. Every game is big and championships even bigger. Everyone watching. I have one opportunity to make it happen. One shot.

All of the pressure I’m feeling right now is a good thing. It’s making me work harder to get where I want to be. I am the only one putting pressure on myself because I have expectations. If I feel that something isn’t the best I can make it, then I’ll do even more to make sure that it is and I’m rarely satisfied. The added pressure can be overwhelming, but I will always resist the temptation to give up because the pressure I’ve put on myself is my motivation.

What do we think when a coach yells, “Put pressure on the ball.” Get up, get low and play defense. Don’t. Let. Them. Breathe. Chances are if you do that the other team will have a pretty hard time scoring, yet they may have one player that can play with the added pressure. If it were easy everyone would do it. That’s the difference: under pressure your true character is revealed. It defines you as a person. It will either make or break you. The ones who won’t panic, won’t fear, and won’t settle are the successful people in life. Although we see pressure as a bad thing it is actually good. It is an opportunity to rise. Not just to be seen as someone who can play, but as someone who can think. It forces us to attack life with a challenge mindset that only allows positive thoughts. No more, “Don’t miss,” only, “It’s going in.” And even if that shot somehow misses, keep your head up, hustle, and know it’s O.K to fail, but you better make sure that next time you have an opportunity that you take it. No pressure.

 Aerial Wilson 1

Nurse Answers The Call From UCONN

Source: Larry Moko (Hamilton Scores)

Kia Nurse of the St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School will soon be going from one powerhouse basketball program to another.

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The multi-talented 6-foot guard who helped St. Thomas More Knights capture consecutive Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association Quad A high school championships in 2011 and ’12, signed a letter of intent Tuesday (Nov. 19) to accept a scholarship offer and play for the University of Connecticut Huskies beginning next fall.

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For those not familiar with UConn, it’s probably the most successful women’s university basketball institution in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I history. At the very least, they’re neck-and-neck with the University of Tennessee for that honour.

In recent years, however, UConn has dominated. Under the direction of head coach Geno Auriemma since 1985-86, the Huskies have won eight national championships, four times going undefeated. UConn has advanced to the Final Four 14 times with Auriemma at the helm. His record with the Huskies heading into this season was 839-133 (including a 90-game winning streak, the longest in NCAA hoops history). Currently, the defending national champions are 4-0 and unanimously ranked No. 1.

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“I think I chose Connecticut because it’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Nurse said during the signing ceremony held at More. “They have great coaches and a great team. And they play against the best players in the country.”

Nurse says she has dreamed of playing for Connecticut since she was in Grade 7.

In terms of More’s own streak of excellence, the Knights are scheduled to be in Belle River/Windsor on Thursday (Nov. 21) to take a run at a third straight Ontario high school title. That’s never been done since the Quad A level of competition was introduced by OFSAA in 2001. St. Thomas More recently won both the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association and Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championships in convincing fashion.

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Many schools have been ringing for the Nurse. Approximately 50 attempted to land her services. But UConn seemed to be the “best fit” ahead of a couple of others under final consideration — Penn State and Indiana.

“I’m hoping to reach my goal of being an Olympian and medalling at the Olympics,” Nurse said. “So I think this (UConn) is one of the best places I can do it.”

Nurse helped Canada qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women; the team won silver at the FIBA Americas Championship. (Photo: Samuel Vélez/FIBA Americas)

Currently the youngest member of the Canadian senior women’s national team, Nurse’s intention is to be a part of the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games in 2016. And Auriemma, it should be noted, also happens to coach the USA Basketball Women’s National Team – the defending Olympic gold-medallists in women’s basketball.

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Before getting fully involved with the UConn squad, Nurse will participate in the FIBA World Championship for Women, Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Istanbul/Ankara, Turkey. She helped Canada qualify for that event by being a member of the team that won a silver medal at the FIBA Americas Championship a few months ago in Xalapa, Mexico.

In 2011, Nurse first made her mark on the international scene with Canada’s Cadette U-16 team in Mexico. And the following year, she led Canada to bronze at the FIBA U-17 World Championship in Amsterdam.

“What an amazing accomplishment,” Knights coach Blaize DiSabatino said of Nurse’s scholarship. “We are very proud of her. We know that she will be successful in her next journey. I’m sure that UConn, being such an elite program, will definitely continue to hone in on Kia’s capabilities.”

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Kia’s father, Richard, is a former Canadian Football League player with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Her mother — Cathy Doucette — played varsity basketball at McMaster University for five years. Aunt Raquel saw hoops action on the court with Syracuse University and Kia’s uncle is former National Football League star quarterback, Donovan McNabb. And then there’s her hockey-playing brother, Darnell, (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds). He was a first-round draft choice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers last summer.

Richard has been Kia’s coach at the club level with Hamilton Transway. Six of those years (consecutively) Kia and her Transway teammates brought home Ontario Basketball Association titles. In addition, Kia led Team Ontario to two Canadian age- group crowns.

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“We talked about it as a family (which scholarship offer to accept),” Richard Nurse said. “Kia wants to play beyond college. We were looking for a place that would bring out the best in her. UConn has a great tradition. Coach Auriemma is the senior women’s national team coach, so he’s fully aware of the commitment it takes to get to that level. That was a deciding factor for us.”

Kia’s older sister, Tamika, also played for the Knights, suited up for Canada at world junior championships and accepted a basketball scholarship at University of Oregon. DiSabatino and her father (Tom Spironello) coached Tamika at More from 2002-04.

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“The Nurse family has such strong character,” DiSabatino said. “And they have great family values. That’s part of the reason they are successful in both athletics and academics. They have a real focus on their family. They are always there to support one another and they are proud of each other’s accomplishments.”

The Knight Nurse begins her quest for a third straight OFSAA championship on Thursday with a pair of games, first at Holy Names, then at St. Anne. St. Thomas More is the No. 1 seed.

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