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Skylar Diggins, a sophomore All-America point guard for the nationally ranked Notre Dame women's basketball team, is blogging about her NCAA tournament experience for espnW.
In today's society, it is important to have a role model and/or a mentor. This person can be a parent, a coach, a teacher, an athlete, etc. A role model should be a positive influence. Also, this person should be someone that you can look up to, relate to your situation and share information that could help you reach a goal or solve a problem or issue. Role models/mentors can act as guides through life, assisting with decision-making. They play an essential role in personal growth and mental development.
As a female student-athlete and a woman in the public eye, I realize that a lot of young girls are watching me. They watch the way I speak, the way I treat others and the way I conduct myself. Because I live by a "to whom much is given, much is expected" mindset, I understand the importance of representing myself, my family, my team and my school in a classy and responsible manner.
I try my best to be a role model to these young girls. One way I do this is by doing volunteer work. I love working with kids. One of my favorite places to volunteer at is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. center in South Bend, Ind. This is the recreation center that I grew up playing at. It is here that I have hosted a countless number of free clinics, conducted personal workouts, coached and spoken to many young girls. I try as often as I can to make myself available for any activities that I can help out with. In my opinion, this is important to young girls. This could help them learn and realize their potential, making them set the bar higher for themselves.
I know this because I have people in my life that have helped me learn and realize MY potential. I would like to take a moment to talk about each of them.
My mom and dad: These are two people in my life that I know will never lead me wrong. They are positive influences that never seem to run out of words of wisdom. The area that they help me the most in is making life decisions.
My best friend, Emily: Emily has been my best friend for 10 years. As a fellow Division I student-athlete, she is someone that relates to my situation, struggles and frustrations. The area that she helps me with the most in is ways to deal with adversity.
My favorite athlete, Candice Wiggins: Candice Wiggins is like my older sister. I respect the way she conducts herself, and I want to be like her in so many ways. I admire her hard work, perseverance and attitude. The area that she helps the most in is ways to be a great leader.
My assistant coach Niele Ivey: I've been watching Coach Ivey play since she was at Notre Dame. She won a championship in 2001. She is a positive influence that pushes me, every day, to be the best player, teammate and woman that I can be. The area that she helps me the most in is mental toughness.
This is an exciting time of year to be a female athlete because of the media exposure we get during the NCAA tournament. It is so important for young girls to have someone to look up to, and this is a great opportunity for female athletes to shine as role models. I strive to be that role model. This is something I constantly think of as I take the floor, and that will be no exception at this Saturday's Sweet 16 game when we take on Oklahoma.
Notre Dame faces Oklahoma in the Daytona Region semifinals at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.