Blood, Sweat, and Tears

A Polytech Student Athlete Experience

Written by Aby Mendez 

  I wake up at 4:45 am every weekday and start my day off with a 20-minute workout to wake myself up then I shower, get ready for school and leave the house by 5:45 to get to school… I live in North Port.  

Every day I bring two backpacks one for school and one for basketball; I have four backpacks in total:  A day, B day, game day bag, and practice bag. Throughout the day basketball is always in the back of my mind: I just can’t wait to get out on the court; it’s my sanctuary once I step onto the floor,there are no worries, no tests, no stress. I take the bus to practice–it’s from 2:30-4:30. I go to school here and its 30-minute drive. Since I’m always half an hour late so, I tend to push myself twice as hard to get my muscles and heart as ready as teammates. 

Mrs. Davis was the one who encouraged me to try out my freshman year. I wasn’t too sure about it because I hadn’t played on a real team before, but I figured I had nothing to lose so I went for it. At first my nickname was Polytech, cute I know. I made JV and I gained a whole new family; that’s my favorite part about basketball– making memories with my basketball sisters. Our record was 10 wins 4 loses. 

After the 2018-2019 season was over, I was awarded a Scholar Athlete award; it was not easy, and I let my grades slip for a second, but I recovered quite well. I got invited to play travel ball for Elite Sports Academy. We traveled and played in tournaments all over Florida; it was so much fun, especially when we stayed in cities with theme parks. The hotel parties are great with teammates. We won National Champions in the Dynasty Hoop tournament. I was getting so much better and got to start a few games. I got a black eye, but it was so worth it. I also got a new nickname “Mac & Cheese” 

Over the summer I was a counselor and assistant coach at our North Port High Basketball Camp; my team of 5- and 6-year old’s won the championship game too. 

This year I made the team again. I was JV team captain and I was a starter.  We started the season off with a huge win. 

Our Record Was 16 wins 5 loses. We played a showcase and won all our games, which was a huge accomplishment since we had already had a game that week and during tournaments you have 2-3 games in one day. It was exhausting but we pulled through. It gets tough when season gets heavy; we have practice 6 times a week and sometimes we had to play three games a week. I got hurt a lot, court burns were my specialty, in fact in all my games I slid on my left knee and in a few I slid on both which left me with two “gnarly” scars. Towards the end we all started wearing knee pads and then just one kneepad because it made us look “Raw”.  

On game nights I’d get home around 9:30 pm, work on homework and cry a little especially if I had a tough game or got super overwhelmed. I knew that I was doing a lot when it came to extracurriculars, but with a few deep breaths and a good support system I was able to pull it off.  

North Port  is 1st seed in the District, and we have our regionals game on February 13th. 

This picture is from a game we went to go watch in Orlando– it was UCF vs Wright State. They invited us to come because one of our players, Emani Jefferson, got a scholarship and signed with D1 Wright State.  

     This is from one of our team bonding get togethers.  

Yes, it’s stressful and tiring but it’s a great experienceBasketball has taught me how execute directions efficiently, work well under pressure, push through and finish strong, how to lead and communicate, and the importance of teamwork and family.