It was a snowy day in December…. I remember being at school preparing for my basketball game at Westminster. It was so snowy outside that there were at least 5 accidents on the highway within 1 whole mile of each other. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the game on time, but when I got there, I was the first player from the team there. My coaches were so mad that the team was showing up late. I was the only one warming up on the court until three more girls showed up. Not knowing that it was time for the game to start, I had high hopes that one more girl would how up so we could have five girls on the court. Unfortunately, since we had only four girls ready to play, Whitfield had to forfeit the game. Since the girls on the Westminster team were so very nice, they let some of their teammates play with the Whitfield team.
As the game went on the Westminster team was falling behind in points, and Whitfield was doing pretty well working with the girls from Westminster. Then it was the 2nd half, and I had gotten the rebound from a shot that hadn’t drained. I was running down the court with the ball and went up for a layup when I was fouled really hard. This girl who was way bigger than I was (and pretty much everyone on the court) and she elbowed me in my stomach. BAM! She knocked the wind out right of me. I fell to the ground, and struggled to breathe, I cried but couldn’t get air into my lungs. It seemed like 15 minutes I was lying on the floor trying to catch my breath again, but finally I had gotten up off the floor and heard people clapping for me.
As my coach and I walked back to the bench, she said to me, “You are one strong girl you know that, right?”
When she told me that I felt so happy that she saw Kendi Lester as One Strong Girl. Whitfield was still in the lead after my painful fall, then my coach put me back in the game after I had caught my breath. I play as best I can after being put back into play with the rest of the girls. Running, dribbling, scoring, trying to avoid the girl who nearly sent me to the hospital. Then the coach calls a timeout. Wow… I was doing so well (well at least I thought I was). As we huddle by the bench, one of my teammates says to me “Kendi what’s that?” and points to the side of my jersey which was covered in blood. I didn’t know where it had come from. I looked at the upper part of my forearm, there was a bloody cut about an inch long.
I had no idea how the cut could’ve gotten on my arm, and I know it didn’t just magically show up on my arm. At that point in time, I wasn’t even worried about the cut, I just got a Band-Aid and called it a day. It was the last two minutes of the game and I had the wind knocked out of me, somehow got cut on my arm by someone, but the Whitfield middle school girls basketball team was still in the lead. I didn’t really care if Westminster had won by default because of the lack of players Whitfield had at the game, all that mattered was that we played as a team, worked well with the girls who weren’t playing on the team, and ended the game strong. The game clock had 16 seconds left on it, but the score was tied… Whitfield got the rebound from the missed free throw, and the center dribbles down the court with the ball, waits at the top of the key for one of the girls to pop out to get the ball. I was waiting for someone to pop out but all of a sudden… Should I go for the ball? No I will just stay here and have someone else get the pass. I had a change of thought and I just popped out to get the ball, the center passed the ball to me, and I shot the ball… The ball spins in the air, hits the backboard, and goes into the basket… I made the shot! The game winning shot (but not really).
I couldn’t believe that after everything I had been through I actually was able to pull myself together, and help the team take the W. That experience made me realize that no matter what you go through you can always believe in yourself and the people around you to make the most out of the situation, and think of the greater good whenever in you are in doubt. Still till this day, I am grateful for the people who saw the best in me, who made me work harder when times got tough, and when I could not stay strong they were there for me to make me feel better. I will never ever forget the day when everything relating to how I could just think of the positive things when stuff got a little hard and that it would all get at least a tiny bit better. That was one of the best basketball games of my whole life. I made that game one of my favorite games by far despite the fact that it was a loss and win on Whitfield’s part. I will never forget that snowy day in December….