Brittany Graham

Shemiah Sanchez: What's Stopping You?

brittany graham

As the college basketball season officially came to an end last week, my eyes quickly shifted gears to my second favorite college sport, softball.

The college softball season is nearly halfway over so this is the time of the year I play catch up before the College World Series begins in May. I tuned in to one of my favorite teams, Alabama as they took the LSU Tigers and instantly became inspired by LSU third basemen, Shemiah Sanchez🙌🏽

The Newnan, GA native was diagnosed with lupus at the young age of 14. In fear of losing interest from college coaches, Shemiah and her family decided not to share her condition. She would go on to have a stellar high school career at East Coweta HS (GA), and eventually find her way in Baton Rouge playing for LSU.

She still today travels to Atlanta to receive treatment for the disease that includes chemotherapy to help protect the lupus from her kidneys. Some days she will travel to Atlanta for treatment then back to campus never to miss class or practice the next morning. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes your body's immune system to attack your own tissues and organs. Common side effects of disease are fatigue, joint pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, among many others. Being a D1 athlete in the SEC is a grind itself. But waking up everyday and doing it while battling lupus is a whole different GRIND!!!💯

Hearing her story suddenly the little things you and I complain don’t seem as big. Shemiah is a fighter😤, and if you can learn anything from her story then know that no matter what your life’s conditions are, if you put your mind to it you can overcome ANYTHING. She could have easily let the lupus win, give in, call it quits and decided not to pursue a college softball career. Not only did she push through towards her goal, but today she is doing so at the highest level competing in the SEC.

A lot of times when an obstacle is thrown our way it’s easy to find a million excuses, reasons why you can’t overcome it. However, if you want to bad enough you only need one reason to do it. If you love it, if you want it bad enough, and you’re willing to put in the work, then that’s all you need, to want it. Never let adversity and life’s challenges keep you from achieving your goals. Whether it’s a disease, where you come from, your race, or anything else you can’t control, just remember with a dream and a work ethic there is always a way you can succeed.

I love everything about Shemiah, her team, and her story. I think it's very brave of her to share her story to inspire all athletes, and especially those that also may be facing lupus or other illnesses. She is a great example for us all to life live with a purpose and not let ANYTHING get in between you, and your dreams. As just a sophomore on the LSU Softball team, her journey and her story is only just beginning. It doesn't seem like much is stopping Shemiah these days, so now as yourself...WHAT'S STOPPING YOU?🤔

Geaux Tigers!!! Guess that means I’m officially a Tiger fan💛⚾️💜

Follow Shemiah @Shemmy_Sheyy

Always, Dream.Live.Ball ✨🌍👑

-Brittany

 

 

Morgan William: Heart Over Height

brittany graham

Morgan William.

A name you should you know by now if you’ve been following the college basketball world the past two weeks. Listed at 5”5 as a junior on the Mississippi State women’s basketball team, but in all likelihood, it’s probably closer to 5”2. Despite William and her Bulldogs having a 32-4 record heading into an Elite 8 match up against No. 1 seed Baylor, they were still in many eyes a heavy underdog. William, nick named “Itty Bitty,” (no explanation needed) scored an impressive 41 points to lead her team to their first ever Final Four appearance with a 94-85 win in overtime. She shot 13-22 from the field, including 6-8 from beyond the arc, to go along with 7 assists, and zero turnovers in 40 minutes of play. After the big win, naturally William was emotional and at a loss for words. But, for more than the natural high of playing the game you love. The day prior to the game against Baylor marked the three-year anniversary of the death of her father who passed at the age of 44 from a sudden heart attack.

Morgan William with head coach Vic Schaeferafter her 41-point perforamce against Baylor

Morgan William with head coach Vic Schaeferafter her 41-point perforamce against Baylor

Heart over height. Despite so much adversity not only dealing with the difficulty of losing your father, but always hearing that you are too small to make an impact in the SEC, William did just that and then some. Coming into the game, she was only averaging 10.1 points per game. But with her dad on her heart and a Final Four berth on her mind William took complete control exceeding all expectations leading her team to Dallas to date with national powerhouse UCONN and winners of 111 straight wins.

But, the story doesn't end there. It gets better!

Friday night in front a capacity crowd of 19,000, all eyes would be on “Itty Bitty” Morgan William to see what she had left to lead her team against the all mighty Goliath of women’s basketball, Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies.

After an initial spark from Mississippi State to start the game and 22-13 lead in the first quarter, the entire nation tuned in for what would eventually go down as history. With UCONN down 8 at halftime, everyone awaited their furious comeback to start the second half and the Huskies did just that. All tied up at 48 heading into the fourth quarter from that point on it was a close back and forth game that eventually went into overtime.

With the game tied up with seconds left, Mississippi State ball, all eyes were on one person, Morgan William. William drove the ball hard to the right pulled up for a jumper as time expired and made what is now known as “THE SHOT.” The shot, that has forever changed the game of women’s basketball knocking out UCONN and ending their record setting streak of 111 straight wins. To say this win was monumental is probably understatement.

Morgan William did it again leading her team to an opportunity to now compete for a national championship against SEC rival South Carolina. Once again, all eyes were on the 5”2 small stature guard Morgan William, and if 48 hours later after the upset of the century, could she possibly have anything left?

She gave her best effort against a very talented USC team that went on to win their first national championship 67-55. A very exhausted William finished with 8 points in 23 minutes shooting only 2-6 from the field. Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer benched the now superstar guard the entire fourth quarter. Naturally, the twitter world went on a rant at Schaefer’s decision not the play the leader of his team and starting point guard that got the team this far (guilty…myself included🤔).

When William was asked what Schaefer told her about not playing a single a minute in the 4th quarter of the biggest game of the year, she once again won our hearts over❤️️

 
 

Morgan William made a name for herself in more ways than one this March. She will now always be remembered for her outstanding 41-point performance in the Elite 8 against Baylor, the infamous shot that changed the women’s game, and now being a class act, great teammate, and role model for how to carry yourself as a student-athlete. Regardless of something deeper happened on the bench between William, Schaefer, and her teammates, the world will never know. All because the humbled William is a team first, self-second individual. As a 5”5-ish player in the SEC, she overcame all odds, trusted the process, her coaches, and her teammates and in doing so accomplished so much this season.

I’m such a fan of Morgan William not only for her play on the court and never letting her height be reason she couldn’t compete at a high level or succeed. But her willingness to not be selfish for being benched, however instead doing what all athletes should do in that situation. Be a good teammate.

Love you guys...always, Dream.Live.Ball,

-Brittany

 

Bigger Than Yourself

brittany graham

The bond between your brothers and sisters as teammates is a beautiful thing. I can't help but to watch this and tear up hearing UCLA Junior Point Guard Jordin Canada speak so highly of Senior Guard Kari Korver following their 63-53 loss to Oregon State during the PAC-12 Tournament. She wanted to win a championship for Korver, because "there is no other else she would want to play basketball with."

In the world we live in today, it's rare to find a college athlete with the humility and selflessness Jordin Canada has. I wish that more young athletes carried these same types of emotions for their teammates. Now more than ever we live in a world where it's all about ME. Everyone is out for themselves and only concerned about their personal success. In reality as an athlete of any kind on a team you are always playing for and representing so much more than yourself. You represent the hours of work behind the scenes your coaches put in to prepare you, you represent your school, your team, and your program. Not only your current teammates but all of those that came before and the many that will compete after you. It's so much more than just you.

Beautiful things can happen when you’re playing for something bigger than yourself. When your why is for coaches, fellow teammates,  the desire to win for them, because they deserve it. When it means so much to you to compete with and for them every night it brings you to tears.

I don’t know about you but those are the types of people I want by my side, not only on the court by in life. Let go of your selfish motives and learn to serve for the needs of others. Because in doing so, I guarantee more people will begin to return the favor for you.

Always, Dream Live Ball.

-Brittany

 

 

DLB Spotlight: Jerlisa Taylor

brittany graham

The thing I love most about DLB is that it takes on a different look depending on the individual at hand. We all have our place in the world and the ability to make a difference and impact others.

A coach, an educator, a role model, impacting the lives of today’s youth are just a few of things that come to mind when thinking of Jerlisa Taylor, my former teammate at Georgia State. Over the years, I have seen her grow and develop into a confident person who inspires so many people, including me, grinding every day to make her dreams a reality.

For JT, hard work has always been a way of life, on and off the court. Off the court, determined to break the cycle of being a statistic, JT is motivated to succeed from enduring a rough childhood. Both of her parents were high school dropouts, her father was in and out of prison while her mother battled a constant battle with drug use. However instead of feeling sorry for herself, she used basketball as her way out to eventually get a college scholarship.

 
 

On the court, she naturally developed a fighter’s mentality too. After a rough start to her college career at Georgia State, with the ups and downs of being in and out of the starting line-up with one night playing 30 minutes and next close to none at all, her story ended exactly the way things were meant to be. She knew her work ethic and the value she adds to a team, and made the decision to transfer to West Georgia University, a Division II school. As the starting point guard her senior year, she averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.

With so much to give in a world so big, today she finds her place through coaching and giving back to her players by teaching the game of basketball, but more important the game of life. When I was a senior in college at GSU, JT was my favorite little freshman. Years later, it’s such a cool thing to see that once shy, little freshman pouring into her team and inspiring so many young female athletes with a vision so big and a heart so full.

JT’s social media gives me so much life, hope, inspiration, and motivates me to keep grinding myself. I love seeing her interact with her players and how much they look to her, which reminds me how much I do too. At 26 years old, her future is as bright and successful as ever, as she has dreams of opening a sports academy for female athletes that caters to team bonding, individual confidence/self-esteem, mindset, motivation, and intense conditioning.

I’m so excited to see what the future holds for you and thankful you let me tell just a brief part of your inspiring story.

Jerlisa Taylor daily exemplifies DREAM LIVE BALL.

1.     The Basics:

   Jerlisa Taylor, Douglasville, GA Georgia State/University of West Georgia 2013

2.     Occupation:

Special Education Teacher

High School Basketball Coach

3.     Define yourself in 3 words:

Relentless, Determined, Courageous

4.     Who has made the biggest influence in your life and why?

 My nephew. He is 10 years younger than me. When he was born, everything I did was for him. I wanted to show him that life as we know it did not have to be the only way of living.

5.     What was the biggest thing you learned from playing college basketball?

Everything has to be earned. Nothing will be given to you and there will be major obstacles that you will have to overcome but with a strong mentality you can overcome any situation.

6.     How did you change, grow, and mature from your freshman to senior year?

My freshman year was the hardest year of course, simply because you go from being the best and competing against other teams within your state, to being a “rookie” again. There were some growing pains. I learned quickly and by my senior year I knew exactly how valuable the point guard position is to any successful basketball team. I came into myself as not only a player but as a person; I was the leader on and off the court and that mindset translate into my everyday life.

7.     What does it mean to you being a coach now?

To be able to pass on the knowledge that I have gained to the next generation of players is a feeling you can’t quite put into words. I love being able to teach about the sport, but also about life. I love coaching. I feel like it is for sure my calling. To be able to coach means everything to me. It’s almost as good as actually putting on the jersey and lacing the sneakers up. Keyword is ALMOST ;-)

8.     What Is Your Ultimate Dream?

My ultimate dream is to open up a sports academy that caters to team bonding, individual confidence/self-esteem, mindset, motivation, and intense conditioning. I feel like the mental portion of women’s basketball gets swept under the rug but in reality, mindset is a major determining factor for success in general. Girls deal with so many self-esteem issues, they lack self-motivation, and most girl teams deal with so much more drama than boy teams which becomes a downfall. So in a sense I would be a life coach that ties sports into the equation.

9.  How Do You Measure Success?

I personally measure success with happiness. If I am happy with my performance then I succeeded, if I am not happy then I have improving to do.

10.  What motivates you to get out of bed each day/how do you stay grinding?

I had a rough childhood. I grind every day because I am determined to break a cycle and I refuse to be another statistic.

11.  Quote to live by?

“If you stay ready, you never have to get ready.” -Unknown

12.  Favorite song or song that describes your life or song that can always keep you going (let me know which one you pick…)

 Heart of a Champion Nelly and The World’s Greatest R. Kelly

13.  Your best piece of advice for the world?

 If you want something go out there and get it. Never expect anyone to hand you anything, why would they? It’s a dog eat dog world. Never let success get to your head, never let failure get to your heart and never let satisfaction get to your soul. Every day is a competition with the next person.

14.  Anything else you would like to add about you personally, or DLB?

DLB is super dope and awesome in every way. I am constantly talking about it with my players. I am honored to have been chosen to complete this interview. If my story inspires one person then I have done my job.