Why 18-year-old basketball player Sanjana Ramesh never procrastinates
At the age of 17, Sanjana Ramesh had already achieved more than most of her peers.
In June 2017, basketball coaches of nearly 10 US colleges had seen her play at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Asia camp – where she was also named the Most Valuable Player (MVP). For the young athlete, this was perhaps the most tangible form of a dream come true.
Basketball player Sanjana Ramesh
A student of Delhi Public School Bengaluru South at the time, Sanjana had played various state matches and been a part of several other basketball camps as well.
However, it was captaining the Indian girls’ team at the FIBA Under-16 Asia Cup in 2017 that pushed her to the limelight. She led the team to a promotion from Division B to A in the next edition of the tournament.
Today, Sanjana is only the second Indian to have secured a Division I Basketball Scholarship under the United States’ National Collegiate Athletic Association. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s of Science in Business Management at Northern Arizona University (NAU).
Life in the US
For Sanjana, moving to the US was just the first step to get closer to her dreams of playing basketball at international events like the European and Australian leagues, and the WNBA. The only Indian player on University’s basketball team, Sanjana was initially hesitant and nervous about how people would receive her.
“Coming from a culturally different background and country, going to a crowd where people have been brought up differently can be difficult,” she says, adding that her team members and coach have been very accepting, kind, and patient.
Amidst intensive training, the one thing she misses is being able to play freestyle with her coach and team members in India.
Sanjana feels that it is a lot easier to balance her education and sports in the US, especially at her University where education and sports are treated equally.
Back home in India, her teachers were kind enough to help her over the weekends but not all athletes enjoy the same benefits in our country.
She explains, “When I go for a tournament in the US, I just have to email my professors and they send me the reading material for that day. Whereas in India, a student often loses touch with their teachers when they are away and get burdened before their final exams.”
According to her, schools in India must have dedicated resources to help athletes catch up with lessons they might miss out on while attending tournaments.
Always moving on
Needless to say, to pursue a dream like Sanjana’s needs hard work. She tells HerStory that a typical day in her life begins at 8 am when she goes for her classes. After that, Sanjana has to devote her time to practice, team meetings, and workouts at the gym.
With no time to spare, the 18-year-old (soon to turn 19) heads to the library to do her assignments and study before retiring at 11 pm.
And guess what? She never procrastinates. Calling herself a perfectionist, Sanjana tells us that she becomes stressed quite often and to avoid additional stress, the 18-year-old meticulously plans her day ahead.
Ironically, her parents are calmer, she says. Sanjana shares that every time she was hurt or unhappy with a certain match, they would tell her that she should accept them – as ups and downs are part of life.
In fact, her parents have played a very supportive role in her basketball career since she began playing for the first time at the age of 12.
Sanjana tells us that she felt an immediate connection with the head coach of ANU Loree Payne, also showed great faith in her even after she had to undergo a surgery for an ACL injury – a time she recounts as one of her lowest moments in life.
In the US, her university also organises several interactive sessions with professional motivators. The young athlete has also been inspired by Indian basketball player Anita Paul Durai, who had coached Sanjana when she captaining team India.
She recalls, “Anita was the first Indian coach to believe that I could actually be something. The woman is 35-years-old, has two children, has been through so many surgeries, and has played and won several tournaments. That is insane to me.”
Today, while Sanjana is focussed on her goals and works hard towards achieving them, she also urges young basketball players like herself to have an alternative plan.
“Sometimes, people in India sacrifice education over basketball,” she adds.
Sanjana plans to pursue a double major with marketing. “After I retire from basketball, I hope to work in sports management and physiotherapy for the Indian team,” she concludes.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)