Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Final Farewell.

I can’t believe that this is my last blog post.  I’m not sure how it went by so fast, but somehow the year is over and I’m officially retired. For someone who always has something to say I’m at a bit of a loss to find the right words.

I had an amazing last weekend as a VRed. We won our quarterfinal against Acadia on Friday. It was a complete team win.  Our leading scorer had 10 points, and every member of the team contributed in a huge way.

Saturday I went to the market with some teammates and we were continually stopped and congratulated by friends, strangers, and even other teams in the tournament.  Kids wanted pictures with us while we were out for our pregame meal and in the newspapers we went from being “bottom-feeders” to “upstarts”.

On Saturday night we played St. FX in the semis but we came up short. We played two great games, but that loss stung immensely.  Not because of the scoreboard, or because we think we could have won, but because after the game as we sat in the teamroom and Coach Speedy was talking all I could think was that I would never again cut a tape job off my ankles.  I will never again take off my uniform, or put my mouthguard away.  I won’t ever again hear Coach Speedy call down the bench for me to sub in.  Never again will I return to the bench, have Dan hand me my shooter shirt, and have Cory put his arm around me and say “nice shift, kid”.

I was given an incredible gift by being able to play the sport I love. Nothing I’ve experienced has had the defining effect on my life, and my character, that playing basketball has. Being a Varsity Red was one of the greatest honours of my life. I should have never whined to Trevor when we had to run stairs after a leg day. I should have never bemoaned Coach Speedy when he set the clock for 30 seconds and told us to get on the sideline. I wish I could take back the times I thought to myself “is practice not over yet?!” I should have been humbled every day. I should have thanked Trevor for the stairs, and Speedy for the sprints. I should have relished each moment at practice.  

If I could give one piece of advice to the girls next year it would be this: be grateful.  You are not entitled to play this game.  Your spot on the team and your health as an athlete are not guaranteed. Eventually, we all retire and we all move on.  Each day that you get to tighten your laces and make yourself better is a blessing.  Every choice you make impacts your whole team, so choose wisely.  Choose discipline, choose integrity, and choose gratitude.

Now, as strange and as daunting as it is, I have to change the way I define myself.  I no longer have the privilege of answering the question of “who are you?” with “I’m Allie, and I’m a basketball player”. Now maybe I say I’m a beginner yogi, an aspiring writer, and a political junkie. I’m a pretty good cook and baker, and I’m way too competitive.  None of these things are new, but they all paled in comparison to being a varsity athlete.  

The debt I owe my teammates and coaches is unpayable and my talents as a writer fail to express my gratitude to them. You have all taught me lessons.  You have laughed and cried with me, and laughed at me while I cried. You have pushed me when I wanted you to leave me alone, and you have lifted me when I didn’t think I could get up. You told me you liked my cooking, and that you appreciated my tenacity. You each made me better.     

While I like to think that they all adore me, I’m sure there are some things the girls won’t miss about me.  They won’t miss me stealing their socks, and always being the last one ready to go anywhere.  They’re probably glad to get rid of my terrible sense of humour and my bossiness. They’ll be glad they don’t have to worry about me short-sheeting their beds or hiding the rental vans on roadtrips.

And there is stuff I’m looking forward to too. I’m excited to get back on a snowboard, and to never, ever, do another Bulgarian split squat. I’m excited to eat when I’m hungry, and not when my schedule tells me too. I look forward to never replying to an invitation for something fun with “I can’t, I have basketball”. 

For all the things that I leave behind there are those that I am taking with me. I have a tiny bit of arthritis, and a scar on my elbow shaped like Katelyn’s front teeth. I have more cutoffs than I know what to do with and dozens of notes from my bucket that I will keep forever. I have a heightened sense of loyalty, and a decent midrange jumper. Most importantly, I have a clearly defined sense of self and friendships that will last a lifetime.

I’m so glad that two years ago I was tasked with writing this blog. It has been an immense privilege to share a small part of my life and my team with you.  Thank you for your constant support. I remain,


Allie Chalke
UNB Varsity Red 2011-2013

1 comment:

  1. Allie,
    I am sure you have left the UNB Varsity Red, a better team for you being on it. You are and have always been everyones cheerleader, since you were a young kid! You found the best in everyone, and you were loved by all! You are definetily a "CHALKE", because you and your fam. are all the same. You give when there's almost nothing left to give. And, when you give, it comes from a place so deep, so courageous, most wouldn't know that place in their own soul. You bring laughter, you bring strength, you bring loyalty to all your relationships. And you always do it "WITH NO REGRETS"! You are more than a basketball player, you are a determined young woman, with an awesome journey ahead. You will fly with the best of the best! And you will inspire all those around you. xoJan