If you told me five years ago

Myla Vnuk and Emily Cullen (edited by)

Myla Vnuk

GNA CAMPUS-  If you told me five years ago that I would be where I am today, I would think you were insane. I’d tell you you’re speaking to the wrong person or giving me false information. I would tie my basketball shoes, look at you with confusion and laugh at what I’d just heard. For me, that little girl with a passion for a sport like never before had big goals set in my future. It was the only direction I wanted to head towards, the only path I thought I had. I was never interested in other sports, and I wouldn’t even consider dedicating myself this much to something else.

I had been playing basketball since I was in the first grade. I signed up on my own interest as a little 7-year-old girl. No one convinced me or forced me to, it was all on my own desire. I grew up involved in the Newport Biddy Basketball program. It’s where I learned everything I not only needed to know for basketball but for everything in sports. I made friends and I made memories that I carry with me always. As I started getting older, I started taking it more seriously. I started joining AAU teams and going to trainers.  At one point, I was playing for a total of five different teams. Most of my time was just practicing for basketball and working to better myself. I was being recognized in the game, for I was on teams that won championships in leagues and was getting picked for all-star teams. My mindset and life were only in basketball. This was my definite path and that is what I wanted to do in college.

When I was younger, the varsity volleyball coach had always told me that I would make a fantastic volleyball player. My response to her telling me this was always, “I don’t think so, basketball is the only sport I care about.” She would tell me to just give it a try one day and that it was good conditioning for basketball. That right there caught my attention. I wanted to do anything possible to greater myself in basketball, so I tried it. I was awful at first. I couldn’t do anything right, but I still enjoyed it. 

As time went on, I was enjoying volleyball to the fullest and playing it for more than just conditioning for basketball. Something was starting to click. I was getting better, and I played for the love of the game. Basketball was still my number one, though I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to.

My freshman year of volleyball came and I was a starter on the varsity team. I was nervous at the beginning of every single game, but I still had the passion to play. I ended every game, win or lose, with a smile and the enjoyment to want to play again. We won the district title that year, and we finished with only three losses. I didn’t want the season to end whatsoever. I knew this was where I belonged when all I wanted to do was keep going to practices and keep playing as much as I possibly could, then basketball came, and it was obvious I did not have that passion anymore. 

I couldn’t mentally get into the game as I used to and I wasn’t enjoying it like I should enjoy a sport. I didn’t enjoy practicing or even just shooting around anymore. I didn’t finish every game, win or lose, with a smile as I did in volleyball. The only thing on my mind was how the next volleyball season was going to go. As the season went on, I realized that this probably wasn’t for me anymore. It’s not fair to the team to have someone there that doesn’t have a passion for it or doesn’t enjoy it like the others. I shouldn’t be doing something that I genuinely don’t have fun doing. It took a lot of deep thought and a lot of discussions, but I had decided that I would finish off the season and not return. As much as I didn’t want to leave, I knew it was something I had to do. I couldn’t be a part of something that I don’t feel I connect with anymore. It wasn’t easy to cope with at first, I had been leaving a huge part of my life behind. All those games, practices, trainings, and AAU teams were all for nothing. The game of basketball was no longer the same passionate sport for me.

In my sophomore year of volleyball, I had the most enjoyable season. I started on varsity and had the most amazing team to play with. The season was fun and memorable in every way possible. I enjoyed every practice to the fullest and played every game with a passion like no other. We made it to playoffs and to the semi-finals and finished with a 13-2 regular-season record. I made the Wyoming Valley Conference All-star team, as well as my teammates Brooklyn Beihl and honorable mention, Rielly Miller. I ranked third in the WVC was also named one of the Citizens’ Voice All-stars, as well as my teammate Jenna Baron. I was runner-up MVP of the Lady Spartans Volleyball Classic tournament, which we won the championship in, along with my teammate Abigail Cullen at 6th place. Being a part of a team with great success in the season was something I was beyond grateful for. 

People always ask me, “Do you miss basketball?” To answer that question, a part of me does miss it, but a part of me doesn’t. I know it’s not where I’m meant to be. I’ll always be grateful for the lessons it taught me on sportsmanship, teamwork, hard work, and dedication. I’ll always be thankful to the people that pushed me in basketball to do better because it always gave me the confidence to push myself past my limits. I’m grateful for my parents that supported me in basketball and were always my number one fans. I’ll never forget the friends I made and the memories that came with them. I learned this first year without basketball that all those games, practices, trainings and AAU teams weren’t “all for nothing.” They were what lead me to where I am now. They are what made me the person I am today. All the late nights and the extra practice may not have been for volleyball, but it taught me everything I needed to know. It taught me more than just volleyball itself, but what came with being an athlete. Never did I think that this is where I would end up. Without basketball, I would not have found volleyball. So, if you told me five years ago that I would be where I am today, I would most definitely think you were insane.