I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was a hot day in Arizona during the summer before my senior year of high school. I was competing in a summer league basketball game, and everything was going great until I went up for a rebound in the third quarter.
I jumped in the air with two perfectly healthy knees, but when I landed, my left knee popped as I experienced the worst pain I’ve ever felt.
That was the day I tore my ACL.
That was also the day I questioned everything I’d dreamt about since I was a little girl.
Since I was 11 years old I knew what I wanted to do with my young adult years - play D1 basketball followed by a career playing professional basketball overseas. That was my plan, and as far as I knew nothing was going to stand in the way of that.
That was until I tore my ACL. It’s funny how one moment can change everything. Going into my senior year knowing that I would miss basketball season was devastating to me.
The universities that showed interest in me slowly began to fall off, and I was left with two choices: quit or keep going. By the time senior year came to an end, I had scholarship offers from 1 NAIA school and 2 small JUCOs.
My spirit was so crushed that if someone would have come to me in that moment of my life and told me I would still live my dream of playing D1 basketball and that I would be in my 4th year playing professionally overseas, I’m not sure I would have believed them.
So you’re probably wondering what happened between then and now, and how I was able to overcome such a challenging moment in my career.
Here’s the truth: I made a decision. I decided to control what I could control and let the rest fall away. I decided to grow wherever I was planted (even if it wasn’t the school of my dreams). I decided that if I wanted to achieve my goals then I had to be willing to endure a little adversity.
Those weren’t decisions that I had the luxury of choosing only once. I had to make a choice every day, and so will you. How bad do you want to reach your goals?
I understand my story is different, and everyone in that situation won’t have the same outcome. So let me share three lessons I learned from my story that anyone can benefit from:
Bloom where you are planted. I may not have planned to sit on the sidelines all season and then attend a JUCO the following year, but that didn’t stop me from growing and improving while I was there.
Control what you can control. I couldn’t do anything about the fact that I tore my ACL, but I could control my actions every day. I was given a plan to return to the court, and I made a focused effort to follow that plan.
Your support system is everything. What voices are you listening to? If the people around you aren’t uplifting and encouraging you, then you need to get new people to be around. My family and friends were a huge reason why I was able to push through that difficult time in my life.
I hope this encourages you and remember: Anything worth achieving will be difficult, but I guarantee you the journey is where you’ll be rewarded. You will look up one day and realize that not only did you reach your goal, but you also became a person that you can respect and admire.
Professional Women's Basketball Player,
- Taneka Rubin
About the Author: Taneka graduated from Florida A&M in 2015 with her Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Without delay, Taneka obtained her Master of International Business degree from the University of East London (UEL) in 2017.
As a student athlete, Taneka was able to take advantage of scholarships to fund each of her degrees, including London. That UEL degree further fueled her desire to play basketball internationally. Taneka was exposed to the lifestyle while at UEL.
Since winter of 2018, Taneka has played professionally in Portugal, then Spain. In the fall of 2020, she started her 3rd season in Portugal, all by the age of 27.
OH AND HER BOOK! Winners Win