Ethan Betts Umpqua Community College

September 16th 2016 was the first day I arrived at college to attend Umpqua, not knowing what the beautiful city of Roseburg had in store for me. What I did know was that I was going to have to learn to cook, fast, and work out how to live without mum picking up the pieces behind me. My brother came with me for the week before I started my college life and helped me get set up. But at that stage it hadn't really hit me that it was real yet, once I gave my brother a hug and said goodbye it hit. I was with two guys I had never met before who would be my roommates. Initially, home sickness was definitely something that I had to learn to deal with, as the support group in Townsville seemed quite far away. But I was excited, and well prepared.

The first weekend came and we were told we would go to the coast and have a team bonding day, what sounded like a lot of fun started with a game of American football slowly turned into a death trap of us sprinting up the biggest sand dune I've ever seen. This really pushed us mentally and physically but we learnt a lot about each other during the trip and was a great way to start what would be a huge year for us.

My first college practice, playing at a junior college made the start very intense, all new faces; no one had ever seen each other play before. The intensity was great everyone was here for the same reason, we all wanted to start on the team and we all wanted to move on to a 4 year school. At this point everything was up in the air so there was no real love loss in the team it was more of a dog fight for your position. Of course though, as good teams should, we became more familiar with each other. We started to look beyond the competition within the team, and towards the big picture- we learnt to play for each other, rather than against.

As we moved forward the practices were very intense we would do an hour in the weight room and practice for three hours. These would make the days feel so long, we would go to school all day and then finish with a four hour practice to get home at 9pm at night and finish a 500 word essay. 

Finding a balance is tough at college you need to be able to manage your time very well, there is no real down time and if you happen to find some, you feel like you should be working out or studying. So between going to school, doing homework, practice and working out, everyday is jam packed. It's funny people think at college all you do there is play basketball, but if you aren't passing in the classroom you’re not able to play. 

Before I knew it the season had started we finished our pre season games and it was the start of a journey. Coming off a great year and wonderful experience playing QBL with the Townsville Heat I knew I was well prepared for the season. Finishing league play with a record of ten wins, six loses had us tied in first spot for the south region championship. It was a grind we would play every Wednesday and Saturday and there was no such thing as an easy game. Every team was fighting for the same goal, the playoffs; there was only 4 spots to be given away in playoffs from our region. We would have our highs and our lows through the season but it was all apart of the journey and why we play college basketball.

We finally hit the end of the season and it was playoff time, something new for all of us, we sat down and watched the selection show to see what team we would draw to play first. Playoffs was a whole new experience walking into the gym on the first day I knew it was something different something I hadn't really experienced. Very anxious and excited to play, we watched the teams play before us and there was a feeling that each team brought that they were ready to win at all costs. I had been in many tournaments before playing representative basketball for Townsville, so I'd like to think I was pretty use to the atmosphere but the only difference was this tournament was win or go home there was a lot on the line.

We would win our first two games which put us into the final four. We ended up losing a close game taking home a third place banner. It wasn't the end result we wanted as a team but it's what happened and as we move forward we learn from it and get better from it. My first year has been amazing I'm blessed with the opportunity I have been given to play basketball overseas to meet great people and friends that will last a lifetime. It's not everyday you get to do something special like this. I'm living my dream, from a young age this is what I've wanted to do so making the most of every moment is important to me. I've learnt so much in just one year at being at college, on and off the court.

There are days that wear you out but that’s life and nothing comes easy. College is a wonderful experience it's made me grow as a basketball player and as person.

My goal is to return to Umpqua next year and play my sophomore year and then move onto a four year school. For the time being, I will stay at Umpqua College to finish up on my studies before heading back to Townsville for a brief stay.

If you're a kid like me who lives, dreams and breathes basketball and want to do great things with your basketball talent; make everything about basketball, do well at school so you can play college basketball. Dreams don't come true by just dreaming about it. Since being here I've realised I don't have time to be lazy or slack off. The basketball journey is short and if you don't make the most of it now you might miss out on your basketball dreams. There are millions of kids fighting for the same spot, the same goal, so what will set you apart? 

If I can say one thing about my basketball journey that has really defined me to this day is not giving up. No matter what happens if you miss out on a team or have a bad game, never give up. You control your own destiny so make the most of every opportunity. 




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