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|Maya Moore, receiving her second Honda Cup in 2011, knows that the benefits from playing a sport -- such as developing character and confidence -- go far beyond fame and publicity.|
My most inspiring moment in women's collegiate sports had nothing to do with basketball. It was at senior night for two of my friends who played lacrosse at UConn. Being there that night and watching them play -- knowing that, for them, it might be the last chance they would have to play competitively in their sport -- was the moment when I realized how much bigger women's sports is than what goes on TV.
While I was playing at UConn, women's basketball was really coming into its own and we were getting a lot of attention. But watching that lacrosse game, it dawned on me that there's a whole other side to female sports that's never seen on TV. Some women don't necessarily get the media attention I've been blessed with, but their athletic careers still help them develop into amazing people. Not only did their sport help them to earn a degree they might not have had access to without an athletic scholarship, but they take away the lessons in leadership and character that we all do, whether or not we make it onto ESPN. One of my friends, a captain on the lacrosse team, is now teaching kids in Africa, and I have no doubt that the confidence she developed while leading her team is a big part of why she has the guts to do what she's doing today.
Obviously, I'm still playing my sport, but my collegiate experience also shaped who I am, on and off the court. Coach Geno taught me that responsibility doesn't just mean taking care of yourself, but that when you're on a team you have a responsibility to everyone. If I see someone struggling or out of sorts, I know it's important to sit down with them and figure out what's wrong -- and how I can help.
Sure, a team-first attitude like that is essential in the WNBA, but it can be just as important in the boardroom or in a family. It requires a lot of energy to look out for your whole team, but that's what it takes for you to know you've done everything you could have to be a good teammate and leader, and to be prepared for whatever challenge is ahead.
I'm inspired by the women I see graduating who are using the skills and confidence their sports instilled in them to change the world, just like I was inspired by the collegiate athletes I saw on TV or interacted with at camps and clinics as a kid. And I hope that young girls everywhere are watching, just as I did at their age, and dreaming of someday following in our footsteps.