By LUBNA ALHTAR
As basketball season approaches, Eric Shaw, a senior power forward on UMW’s basketball team and communications major, reflects on his relationship with basketball and how it has shaped him into the man he is today. He began playing basketball competitively at the age of six and has continued since then.
“I have always had a basketball in my hand… the game, or even just shooting allows me to escape whatever troubles I’m experiencing,” said Shaw. “It brings my emotions to an all-time high and [the game] is more than just a distraction – it is a sanctuary, and makes me feel like I’m home… I’m in love with it.”
Shaw’s inspiration in basketball comes from his former coach, Craig Boothe and his mother, Rhonda Shaw. Working with Boothe allowed Shaw to see how basketball is not only a game, but a tool for his own betterment. It has helped him become well–rounded in his academics and in other talents, such as digital media and painting.
“Basketball has given me things that I wouldn’t have otherwise – from material things like shoes, clothes to the more important things such as a sense of belonging – I’ve always had a sense of brotherhood, character, the ability to travel… I probably wouldn’t be in college if it weren’t for basketball,” said Shaw. “It has given me fundamental qualities like leadership and discipline.”
Through his mother, Shaw has been able to persevere in any hardship that life has bestowed upon him. Her resilience and persistence has given Shaw the power to push past any obstacles or difficulties. When overwhelmed with responsibilities, he reminds himself that anything is possible.
“Playing basketball has helped me discipline myself in not only my sport, but in my workouts [too], like when I have to run sprints,” says Shaw. “It’s also made me pay more attention to my artwork… I find myself dedicating more time and consistency into my art, just like I do with basketball.”
When Shaw notices himself wanting to take days off, he constantly reminds himself of his ultimate goal – his continual betterment of himself – on and off the court. Like many others, he finds himself feeling lazy every now and then, but is able to overcome this sentiment by reminding himself of his opportunity.
“I realize that there are people who aren’t blessed with the same capabilities as me… If I don’t do everything that I can, I’m not respecting and honoring what I have,” said Shaw. “I’m sure there are millions of people who’d want to be in my shoes – to be a student athlete in college, so I can’t give that away.”
Shaw says that he feel like his leadership abilities have improved due to basketball, making him a better teammate. This growth has opened his eyes to see basketball as something “greater than self.” He demonstrates strong leadership through his motivating nature.
“I’ve never wanted to be team captain,” he says. “I’d rather be more of a vocal and emotional leader – lead by example [and] not just my words.”
As his college career wraps up, he says, “My two focuses this season are to give it everything I have since it might be my last time competitively playing and to also help instill positive qualities in my teammates, who I consider brothers and not just teammates or friends… I would like to inspire them to have the qualities that my inspirations have instilled in me, which will make them better players and people.”