Social, life and basketball skills learned through competing
By Greg Bach
Youth sports is about so much more than just learning and developing skills and competing.
It’s also about forging friendships, interacting with coaches and developing those all-important social skills that are used for a lifetime.
For Becca Murray, one of Team USA’s top wheelchair basketball players, those early sports experiences were incredibly crucial to so many areas of her life.
“I just wanted to be in sports because all of my friends were in sports,” says Murray, who began playing wheelchair basketball at age 6. “So to get the social life with meeting people and being able to interact with people that also had disabilities was pretty important because then I had people who actually went through the same things that I did as a child.”
The sharp-shooting Murray tallied a game-high 33 points in Team USA’s 62-45 win over Germany last week in the Gold Medal Game at the Paralympic Games in Rio.
And she has a powerful message for today’s young athletes facing challenging health issues.
“Never give up,” she told us prior to departing for Rio to compete in her third Paralympic Games. “There are resources out there. I know that sometimes they are hidden and I know that my family had to do a lot of searching for them. Just never give up on what you want to do in life because dreams really do come true when you put your heart and soul into things.”
BEING A TEAM PLAYER
Murray is leaned on heavily for her scoring. But on the days when her shot isn’t falling she adjusts and finds other ways to contribute to the team’s success.
And that is a great lesson for all young athletes to keep in mind.
“When your shooting might not be right I just try to tell myself that there are other things that you can contribute to the game besides shooting,” she says. “So just trying to recognize who does have the hot hand, and try to get them open, and then playing really good defense.”
DEVELOPING ON – AND OFF – THE COURT
Thanks in part to basketball, Murray has evolved into a more well-rounded and confident person.
“I’m proud of how I have developed as a person,” she says. “I used to be a pretty shy person and I’ve actually come out of my shell due to sports and traveling the world. I don’t think I would be the person that I am today if it wasn’t for the support that I’ve had throughout the years of growing up and the friendships that I have made through the sport.”
When Murray glances back at her journey from youth sports to a two-time Paralympic gold medalist she’s thankful for all the positive influences she’s had along the way.
“I was always blessed with having really awesome coaches,” she says. “I’ve been blessed with coaches who really knew what they were talking about in developing players’ games.”
And that development has carried over into all other aspects of her life.
That’s the power of sports – and it all began at age 6.
Olympic softball great Andrea Duran on using failure to work harder and achieve more
Olympic steeplechaser Colleen Quigley on the value of trying a variety of sports and how it shaped the trajectory of her life
Dr. Christopher Ahmad, co-author of PLAY BALL and head team physician for the New York Yankees, on keeping kids out of operating rooms and on the field
WNBA star Allisha Gray inspires young athletes to fight through tough games and difficult injuries because she has been there and done that