When I was in the third grade, I had the opportunity to be the “team manager” for the Montana State Women’s Basketball team. My mom worked in the MSU athletic department and because I loved basketball and needed something to do after school aside from disrupting her work, she coordinated for me to watch basketball practice every afternoon. What started as a young hooper watching practice every day, quickly developed into me running the clock, filling water bottles, and eventually sitting on the bench for every home game for the next three years. The players on the team accepted me as one of their own and granted that third grade girl an opportunity to see what her future could hold. It was the root of a dream of playing collegiate basketball that would one day grow to come true.

Just like those hard-working, gritty, tough women that I got to watch every day, I worked diligently to perfect my craft. I set out to win, be the best I could be, and have fun. What I didn’t know is that I would learn so much more than just how to win. Pursuing my dreams provided the opportunity for me to experience unexpected, invaluable lessons that have shaped the woman I am today.

Here are a few of the unexpected lessons you will learn as you pursue your dreams:

1. You will learn how to deal with failure
It’s inevitable. The response to your failure is what really matters. Try again or find another way and make it happen. Your attitude and how you treat others through your failures really matters. Choosing kindness and positivity is always the path to no regrets.
2. You will learn to push yourself beyond barriers
There are few things more challenging than being a collegiate athlete. You will be challenged physically, emotionally, and mentally.
3. You will acquire confidence
Failing and then pushing yourself beyond barriers teaches you that you are capable of more than you thought. The more you learn that you can overcome challenges, the more confidence you have when the next obstacle arises.
4. You will learn to be selfless
It’s not all about you. As much as you want to be the best and accomplish all of your goals, you must remember that you are on a team. True success comes when you learn to put others and the team first. I love the quote, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

I am so excited to help girls who are in pursuit of their dream. It’s bigger than the accolades, success, or the scholarship. It’s helping grow young women into all that they can be. Achieving your dream just so happens to be the byproduct.

Pursuing your dreams is only possible if you take the steps to get started. Let’s go far together!

Mandy Close Kavanaugh/Women’s Basketball