University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduateTaylor Hall was cut after her first week with the Seattle Storm. She took a moment Monday to share the experience.
Following the WNBA draft, around midnight, I got a text from Coach Foster telling me that the Seattle Storm wanted me to come to their training camp. Soon after their assistant coach Jenny called me to give me the official invitation. I was a bit shocked but very excited. I didn't sleep much that night.
The following morning, I realized how much I had to do before I took off for Seattle in 10 days. It was the most overwhelming time of my life. I had finals to finish, graduation pictures to take, and a whole apartment to move out of. On top of all of that, I had to find time to get in the gym to make sure I was prepared for camp. Thankfully, I have a great support system that helped me get everything done without getting too stressed out. Before I knew it my time at UTC was up and my next stop was on the other side of the country.
My mother and sister drove me to the Nashville airport. Everything was fine until we said our goodbyes right before I reached security. I had never had to tell so many people goodbye in such a short amount of time, especially not knowing when I would see them again. The only way I can describe my feelings is weird, I guess. Maybe just a big mixture of almost every emotion you could think of. Waiting on my first plane was really tough, and I tried to avoid thinking about everything too much. I knew my mind needed to be focused on basketball before camp got started.
I met up with Jasmine Lister, another camp invite, from Vandy on my way there. We were roommates in Seattle and stuck together for the most part. The first two days there were spent getting the boring but necessary things out of the way such as physicals, getting a rental car, signing papers, etc. To me it just provided us with too much time to dwell on what was coming Sunday.
To say we practiced would be an understatement, for those were the longest days of basketball I have ever experienced. A typical day would last from 9 am until about 3 pm, and it included weights, pre practice, film, and then finally actual practice. Their season started around two weeks from our first day, so we hit the ground running. We worked on a variety of different offenses, defense expectations, and other aspects the coaches felt we needed to work on each day. Everything about the experience was a step farther than what I was used to if you will. Practices were longer, drills were harder, opponents (a group of men who practiced against us) were better, and so on. Every aspect of the game was a step beyond what you typically see at the college level.
Playing with people at the next level is an awesome experience. People are different ages and all have unique experiences that have shaped their game. The veteran players were great to work with and fun to watch. Experience is definitely important when it comes to the professional level, it is not hard to tell who has been around and who has not. Unfortunately, I did not even get to meet five of the Storm's veteran players because they were still playing overseas. The majority of their team had been in the league for multiple years.
The rookies quickly formed a bond despite not knowing each other before Seattle. It was a new situation for all of us but having a group made it easier. We learned together and helped each other as much as we could. I was extremely thankful that I had such a great group of ladies to be around and work with. We spent a lot of time together when we could. We had dinner together each night and reflected on the day we just survived. It felt good to have people to talk to about what was going on and how adjusting was going for each of us.
Sadly, I was not able to make the final roster for the Seattle Storm, but I do not think I walked away empty handed. They gave me an amazing opportunity that allowed me to grow as a person as well as a player. That kind of experience does not present itself very often. God chose to close that door, so I am currently waiting to see which one He opens next. I hope to play basketball professionally somewhere, but I do not know anything concrete about that yet. My other plan is medical school. Since I have a free summer I will use it preparing for that as well as basketball. I cannot say where I will end up, so I am just trying to make sure I have my bases covered for whatever I end up doing next!