Those who are prepared are always welcome. Opportunity is a very funny thing and really does come knocking at any time. Being a professional in any job requires constant preparation to seize and dominate when an opportunity comes.
To be honest, this season has been a very strange one for me. Ever since I was a little kid I have contributed on every time I played for. The most time I have ever spent on the bench was my freshman year at Wisconsin but even then I was still averaging around 10 minutes a game, which is more than most freshmen ever see.
When I arrived in Israel nearly six months ago I knew I was going to be able to contribute to this team. After a few practices I really felt I could compete at this level and find a solid role to play on this very talented team. All I needed was an opportunity.
Weeks and then months had gone by and I was starting to get some serious thorns in my backside from being firmly planted on the bench. I was playing well in practice and doing everything I felt I needed to do but still minutes/opportunities did not come.
With so few chances coming in games I really need to make sure I take care of myself off the floor. I have a fairly simple routine that allows me to stay in shape despite only getting two or three real practices a week. Swimming, yoga, weight lifting and a healthy diet have allowed me to keep my conditioning at a high level which has been a big-time challenge because I do all of this on my own. At times it can be hard to find motivation to do it but I need to be ready if and when my name is called because you only get one shot to make a first impression.
My high school coach has always told me "anyone is one or two sprained ankles away from starting" and there is some serious truth to that. In my case it was a hurt calf muscle but tomato, tomoto. I have seen a total of 10 minutes of game time this entire year prior to this past week which is not uncommon in professional sports, especially for rookies.
With a teammate hurt and another picking up a few fouls I was finally given my chance to audition. I had put in the work and I stepped into the game with a calm confidence knowing I was ready for this moment, like I was about to take a test I already knew all the answers to.
I was able to knock down my first shot and then really started to settle in to the flow of the game. I made a few mistakes but overall was extremely happy with how I performed. After it was all said and done I ended the night with 13 minutes and six points and a huge smile on my face. I had passed my first audition but more importantly got to compete again which is something I have dearly missed these last few months.
Now I hope to earn a few more minutes in the upcoming games but once again have no real control of the situation. My team is still loaded with veterans and we are getting down to the money time of the season. If the minutes come I will be ready and if they don’t I will still be ready because you never know when your name will be called.
(Note:You can find the archive of Mike Bruesewitz’s Imported Bru stories and photo galleries here and listen to his latest podcast here.)