I receive inspiration from my great-grandma

Erin Mullins

“At my age, most women break a hip. And you see me, walking back and forth across your gym? Never give up.”
These were the infamous words of my great-grandmother, Maud Lepley, in the documentary The Heart of the Game. The documentary follows a winning high school girls basketball team in Seattle over six seasons.
In her 90s, my great-grandmother recounted her tales of coaching basketball in the 1920s to the high school athletes. Back then, girls could not leave their side of the court. A hundred years later, female athletes are finally allowed many more opportunities.
When I was 7 years old, I watched this documentary with my family to celebrate my great-grandmother’s role in the film. This was the moment I decided I was going to follow in the footsteps of the girls featured in the film and become a collegiate athlete.
Although I never succeeded in basketball, I competed in cross country and track and field for four and a half years of college.
Throughout various hardships and low periods of my life, I would watch the documentary again for inspiration. Each time I watch the film, something new resonates with me. As the athletes grew up and faced various hardships, my own life was reflected in their struggles.
In the end, the athletes prevailed over the struggles. But throughout much of the documentary, their fate was uncertain. Watching the documentary and hearing my great-grandmother implore her sage wisdom to never give up encouraged me.
Whether it is starting at a new college or moving states away to a new job, uncertainty can feel like the death of a former life. But whenever I want to give up, I think of my great-grandmother. She was independent until the end, walking up and down the steep hills of Queen Anne in Seattle at 101.
Moving 14 hours from my hometown to pursue journalism is full of unknowns. Failure is possible, but so is flight. Failure is not final. After failure, flight may seem impossible. But if one is willing to weather the uphill, they may find themselves above the clouds.