The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
Learning to Perservere

By Koshiro Ashizawa ’15

My name was not on the list of players who had made the eighth-grade basketball team. I had started playing basketball three months before the tryouts, practicing with my friends nearly every afternoon after school. Although I was terrible at it, I still enjoyed hearing the “swishing” sound of the ball going through the hoop, something that rarely happened due to my weak shooting skills. I thought I was ready for tryouts. I was so confident. I was quite sure that I had practiced hard enough and that my efforts would pay off. However, as the tryout day came closer, I became more and more anxious. When the day came, I was extremely nervous, especially because of all the varsity players who were so tall and muscular. My palms were sweating, and my body didn't move as gracefully as it had while practicing. I suddenly lost all my dribbling, passing, and shooting skills. It was embarrassing. The day after tryouts, the friends I had practiced with were walking around smiling broadly after seeing the new team list. Sadly, my name was not on it.

I now consider this event as a failure that, while disappointing at the time, ultimately transformed me. That failure had upset and shocked me profoundly. Nevertheless, after a few nights, I got over it, and where there had been despair, there was now only a feeling of motivation. I promised myself that I would bounce back from this failure. I knew, however, that in order to make that happen, I had to practice every day.

People really thought I was insane. No one could imagine that I could ever make the team because I did not seem athletic, nor talented, nor strong. However, I took all of those negative ideas and decided to think of them as challenges that would motivate me. I kept practicing whenever I could, and this became part of my daily life. I even carried my basketball to my classes, and I bounced that ball no matter where I went. By the next tryout, my skills on the court were far beyond what they had been before. I was so confident that I wasn’t nervous at all. When the tryouts started, everyone seemed surprised by my improvement, including the coaches. By the time it ended, I was sure that I had at least made the junior varsity team. Instead, I was assigned to the varsity team! 

If I had not failed the first time, this would never have happened. I learned that if you fail at something, even after you have tried hard, it probably wasn’t your best effort. Believe it or not, I am now the leader of the team, and I still enjoy hearing the “swishing” sound, a sound that I now make on a regular basis. I failed that first time, but it is because of that very failure that eventually, I succeeded.

Ever since, I have learned how to apply this lesson to different aspects of my life, especially in academics. For a calculus test, I once studied all night long. However, I didn’t get the high grade that I wanted. Although upset, I remembered the time I had first tried out for basketball. I used this experience as a motivator just as I had done with basketball. As a result, I got an A on the next test. Everyone fails at some point in their lives, but not everyone can overcome their feelings of failure. Fortunately, I did, but that was not why I succeeded in the end. Although I had “failed” the tryout, I did not really “fail” because I never gave up. Real failure is when you give up and let your dream go away. Success is achieved when you keep persevering, even in the face of failure.

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