Letter to my younger self
Dear 5 year old Ticha,
You are gonna fall in love. It will be love at first sight. The day that you touch that round orange ball – it will change your life forever.
You are going to play basketball everyday. Most of the days you will be the only girl amongst boys. They won’t let you play – you know why?? Because you are a girl!!!
But, stay persistent. Don’t lose hope! Stay in your lane until the day they only have 9 and ask to see if you want to go in to play 5 on 5. You will be ready and fearless. You will show them that you belong and that you have belonged all along – they just didn’t see it.
And from then on, they (the boys) will start to accept you and let you play with them. Then they will start choosing you first!! So NEVER GIVE UP!!
Your dad will be your first coach and he is gonna be harder on you than everybody else – it’s called tough love. Don’t take it personal. He sees so much potential in you, so when he demands stuff from you that he doesn’t demand from others, just comply…and don’t make faces and roll your eyes! 🙂
Make sure you always do your school work and have good grades otherwise your parents won’t let you practice or play – the worst punishment of it all.
Your brother will be SO important in your development. He will be your protector and then he will become your biggest fan. When you ask to go with him to the playground and he says no – it’s because he is not going to the playground. He is going to talk to some girls. Don’t be sad – it will happen sometimes! Paulo will also pass on his “American Dream” to you- he had the desire to go to college in the States. Guess what? He never went, but you will!!
At the age of 16 you will meet this American woman that will change your life forever. Her name is Allison Greene and she will eventually be your assistant coach at Old Dominion University.
Your dream to go to America will happen, BUT…it’s gonna be hard. You will miss your family, your friends, your country. You will question if you made the right decision (several times)…but I can promise you it will be the best decision of your life! You will get a scholarship and you will grow as a woman, as a player and you will get your degree in Communications.
You will write letters to your parents and they will come visit anytime they can.
I have to tell you a secret – back then (1994) there is no Internet! You are so spoiled now! Good thing you have Clarisse (Machanguana) and Mery (Andrade) to speak Portuguese with and help you not being too homesick.
The best of it all is that the WNBA will start in 1997 – when you are a junior in college – and you don’t know if you will have a chance to play in the best league in the world, but you will. You will play for 15 years, for 3 different franchises. You will be the #2 pick and when it’s all said and done, on the 25th anniversary of the league (2021), you will be considered one of the TOP25 players to ever play in the WNBA!! THAT’S CRAZY!
A little girl from Figueira da Foz Portugal – oh by the way, when you get to the States, most people won’t know where Portugal is. Don’t get mad. Educate them! 😉 But, yeah a little girl from Portugal goes to America and is successful at basketball.
Imagine if your fear of failing, made you stay home. So, always remember: it’s better to try and fail then to never try!
You will be a professional basketball player. People will pay you to play basketball. You will be able to make a living out of this amazing sport. And to think you grew up without any women players to look up to. Magic and Jordan were your idols. Now you have little girls wanting to be like you. Wanting your autograph and a picture!
You will pinch yourself several times to make sure you are not dreaming!
You will travel all over the world and play all over the world because of that orange ball. You will make incredible friends that will last a lifetime. Create memories that you didn’t even have in your wildest dreams!!
But all of that was possible because of your hard work, dedication, passion and sacrifice. You remained humble and hungry. Remember, your goal is just to be the best player YOU can be – but you will achieve that and then some!!
Be coachable, be a good teammate, always lead by example and don’t let the bad games and the losses make you so mad that you don’t want to sign autographs or take pictures!! Be a PRO…every single day!
Ticha, I can tell you so many more good things that will happen to you, but i want to make sure you don’t relax!! Haha
Ok, just a few more: you will enter the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 and the playground, in Figueira da Foz, where it all started will be named after you – it’s all so surreal sometimes… BUT, I don’t want to tell you everything. Somethings you will have to figure out on your own, but just know that if you stay committed to your passion, it will be all worth it!!
Basketball will ALWAYS be a part of your life. Your career will, unfortunately, come to an end at the age of 38. Your Achilles’ tendons were the main reason for it – but your desire to continue to give back and pay it forward will turn your passion into being an agent.
You will have the opportunity to stay involved and not only be an agent, but be a mentor to your clients. You will love your job!!
Remember to enjoy the process! It goes by SO FAST! And one day you will look back and just smile. It was all worth it. No regrets!
And to know you were a pioneer – that you overcame your fears and you bet on yourself! That your whole country is proud of you! That the President of your country will give you a Medal of Honor. That your family always supported you and gave you the courage to fly away…And today little girls look up to you…and some boys too!!
Oh, one more thing – you will throw a lot of no look passes… Some people will even call you “Lady Magic”. And that it was – your career was MAGICAL!!
Much Love, Ticha