When I was eleven years old I was a ballerina. All I cared about were mirrors, point shoes and tutus. At 5’5”, I was already taller than the average fully grown ballerina, but I loved to dance and wasn’t going to give it up no matter how hard it was.
Then my mother forced me to go to basketball camp.
Needless to say that even though I had a tomboy streak, I was kind of shocked at actually having people bump me around, throw a big orange ball at me and stick their hands in my face.
I hated it, but only at first.
My entire life I had just grown like a weed, but it was a terrible thing in ballet. Since ballet was all I cared about, I thought being tall was a terrible thing. I remember praying that I wouldn’t get any taller.
But sitting there in those bleachers at camp, I heard a girl say to another girl that she couldn’t believe how tall I was and how amazing it was to have a tall girl on the team.
Eleven year-old Chloe couldn’t believe her ears. Being tall was a good thing? How?
The coach I had for the camp had been through the same thing. She had always been tall and she inspired me to actually try. Between overhearing a conversation and my coach’s encouragement I flourished in the camp.
At the end of the week I had completely fallen in love with the game of basketball. I couldn’t wait for fall to come so I could play again and have people tell me how glad they were that I was there instead of telling me I was “so tall”.
As many of you know, I grew to be six foot tall and went on to play basketball in college.
In my final year of playing, I walked on the team at Southwest Baptist in Bolivar, Missouri. I remember there was a point guard who I had never even spoken to, but we clicked on the court. Our styles of playing complimented each other in a crazy way.
When we both made the team, she told me that she was so excited that I had because she really enjoyed playing with a tall girl who could catch and move like I do. It was an amazing moment in my life.
I found out a few years ago that my ballet teachers had attempted to talk my parents into discouraging my interest in ballet because I was going to be too tall. I thank God that my parents let me dance as long as I wanted to, because I loved it.
But ballet wasn’t for me. It helped me in life, I have certain motions and movements from the seven years I trained, but it wasn’t my thing. In fact, my family and coaches used to tease me because to this day I point my toes when I jump.
Each of us is built for something in particular, but sometimes we need other experiences to shape us to excel at our particular thing. Those seven years of ballet weren’t wasted, they were spent shaping me into a very quick and sure footed post, who had killer spin moves.
Looking back on it, I am always amazed at what a little encouragement and my height has afforded me: sixteen years of friendships, exercise, competition, money for college and a future in anything I wanted.
Chloe Goff is a former college basketball player who enjoys a plethora of activities, most of which make her sound like a walking oxymoron. Her day job is the Sports Editor of the Grove Sun newspaper in Grove, Oklahoma.