When I first arrived at Hopkins, saying I was nervous was an understatement. I was overjoyed to be attending my dream school, but at the same time, I feared the immense change this would bring to my life. Thoughts of doubt constantly consumed my mind. Will I make friends? Am I smart enough? Will I be happy? Where will I belong?  

To calm my nerves and find people I could connect with, I attended the semesterly Student Involvement Fair (SIF). I was flooded with relief and clarity when I discovered the Women’s Club Basketball team. I immediately knew I had to join. Basketball has always been a huge part of my family and my life. This was how I would find a sense of community and continue doing what I loved.  

The next week, I tried out for the team and made it! I was initially worried I wouldn’t be able to afford the fees associated with joining basketball teams based on my prior experience. To my surprise, joining was completely free (making this another one of Hopkins’ affordable offerings).  

We have practices, games, team-bonding events, and fundraisers. Some of our games are on campus, and others require us to travel short distances to neighboring colleges. Car rides to and from games are a mix of playing music, studying, talking, and sleeping. I’m usually looking out my window comparing the cityscape of the East Coast to the countryside views I’m used to back home. I’ve enjoyed seeing areas I’m unfamiliar with like Washington, DC, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  

Post-game picture with the opposing team

The very first team-bonding event of my first year at Hopkins

At times, my teammates feel like mentors. They’ve given me advice on courses to take and how to study for them. This has been especially helpful in some of my harder neuroscience classes. Their housing recommendations convinced me to live in Bradford, one of the building options for second-year students. One teammate even gave us her microwave to put in our room.  

Our captains understand that school comes first, so the time commitment has been easy to balance with my schedule. Sometimes when we’re busy, we bring our homework to practice so we can still have fun with the team. Everyone always tries to help each other in any way they can. One time, I stopped mid-practice to join a psychology review session over Zoom. I shared important notes from it with the other girls taking that class while they kept practicing. At a different practice, some of the girls paused working on their homework to give me tips on a paper I was writing. 

The team’s laid-back atmosphere of jokes and laughter extends both on and off the court. Last year, a teammate and I were in a cognitive neuroscience class together. We would sneak pictures of one another during class and send them to each other, trying not to get caught in the act. Unfortunately, our professor saw me more times than I’d like to admit.  

Sneaky picture taken before class
Sneaky picture taken before an exam

Fundraisers are one of my favorite aspects of the team because they cover the cost of the merchandise we buy. Our fundraisers usually consist of cleaning the stadium stands or helping with game operations during various sporting events. Picking up trash isn’t glamorous, but it’s well worth it considering nearly all my Hopkins gear has come from the team. In just two years, I’ve already acquired a crewneck, windbreaker, pants, and two shooting shirts.  

Team bonding is definitely another favorite activity of mine. We’ve had March Madness watch parties, played get-to-know-you games, sang karaoke, and, of course, eaten a lot of food. Someone even made a cake decorated with a few inside jokes relating to my love of cows and milk, which we all laughed at.  

Pineapple/pepperoni pizza
Homemade brownies
Inside-joke cake

Joining the club basketball team was one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to Hopkins. It’s given me a sense of community and a place I feel I belong. I’ve made friends and traveled to new places. I’ve received guidance (and lots of free clothes) that I couldn’t be more grateful for. When life gets stressful, I can always count on the club basketball team to calm my nerves and clear my head just like it did when I first arrived at Hopkins.  

More team-bonding fun