The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I started playing organized sports at the age of 7 years old and before that, I never spoke to anyone. I was so shy, I had to have my brother who is a year and a half older than me, walk up to other little kids on the playground to ask them if they wanted to play with me. I would see another little girl playing handball and I would go find my big brother and point to her, he would grab my hand and walk me over and do all of the talking for me, “Hi! What’s your name?... nice to meet you. This is my sister, Marti. She really loves playing handball, and I see you like to play handball too. Marti is really good, can she play with you?” And they would say yes, and he would leave and I would start to play, still not saying a word.  I was so afraid to speak, I’m not sure why but the thought of something stupid coming out of my mouth terrified me so I’d rather just listen to others and watch. I was a huge introvert, which led me to get picked on and bullied by other kids, especially when my big brother wasn’t around. It wasn’t until my parents signed me up to play organized sports, where I started to find my voice. I started to learn how to communicate (because I had to out on the field). I started to make my own friends naturally, thanks to sports. We meet some of our best of friends out on the playing field because sports bring us together and help us build relationships.

A very important position you play in life is friend. Friendship is a choice and it’s inside of your control. You choose to be a friend, and you choose the friends you keep.  When you consider someone a friend, there is a mutual trust and support between the two of you.  Mutual interests, history, and common values may draw us together as friends, but the combination of loyalty, affection, trust, respect, and love is what keeps a friendship together. True friends are encouraging, loyal and honest. To be the utility player in life and play the position of a true friend, you must be committed to your friend’s happiness. A true friend is encouraging and supportive of what makes you happy, but won’t refrain from telling you something you don’t want to hear, if in hearing it lies your best interest. I always say true friends don’t just tell you what you want to know, they tell you what you need to know. As a true friend, you are understanding and you will never ask your friend to compromise their principles in the name of your friendship or anything else.  A true friend is a good influence who inspires you to live up to your best potential, and they will hold you accountable to that potential.

In sports, we have to learn how to be a great teammate.  If you know how to be a great teammate on the playing field, then that will translate off of the field and help you be a great friend in life.  You have to be dependable and reliable out on the playing field. There’s an African proverb/philosophy called “ubuntu” which means, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” This means I can’t be all I can be until you are all you can be; no one person’s goals are more important than the entirety of the team.  We had a saying at UCLA, “team-over-self.”  We had a team-over-self mentality, which means we supported each other on good and bad days. We put the team’s interests above our own, which meant at times we had to sacrifice our individual self-happiness or satisfaction for the greater good of our team. As a utility player in life, we are willing to sacrifice our individual comfort or satisfaction for the greater good of someone else’s, because that’s what true friends do. You a fearfully and wonderfully made.

Blessings and love,

Marti Reed

Marti Reed