My Journey

By Gigi Gonzalez

Looking up from the court onto the stands at Stony Brook, do you know what I see?

I see community, family, support, and love.

It’s a sea of fans that consistently shows up for us — cheering us on and being part of our journey. Whether it’s basketball, volleyball, track, etc., people support us.

That’s why I will relish every moment I wear this jersey and play basketball for Stony Brook.

It’s the culmination of a lifelong dream; every moment I get to do this is a gift.

And now in the early days of my fifth year, I’m not going to waste it.

Staying curious

I approached athletics with a childlike wonder.

Basketball, baseball, and football, I taste-tested them all while playing with my older brothers.

At the time, it wasn’t so I could be a college athlete one day, nothing like that.

It was just fun.

As I got older, it didn’t really feel like I chose basketball, but that basketball chose me.

It was in my blood.

My brothers played it, and my father himself played high school ball.

The sport fit me like a glove, so I went deeper into the game.

The more time and effort I gave to basketball, the more I got back in return. I went from high school ball to AAU and quickly realized I’d have a chance to do even more with it.

In fact, the first college to ever reach out to me was also the one I would ultimately call home, Stony Brook. They reached out after my first AAU trip, and I wasn’t certain I’d go there right away, but the conversation was enlightening.

I kept an open mind, and when I visited Stony Brook, that’s when I knew.

Have you ever been somewhere new and felt like it was home?

To me, that was Stony Brook.

It still felt like a leap of faith, but one I was certain would lead to greener pastures.

Growing pains

The decision to attend Stony Brook was easy.

Excelling was hard.

Whenever you’re entering new moments in life, the transition will have unexpected twists and turns.

First, I had to deal with what any new college student has to adjust to — new classmates, different environments, and finding the right balance as a student-athlete.

Yes, there were moments of being homesick and missing family, but overall, I adjusted well and used this all as an opportunity to grow.

Then COVID-19 happened.

I feel like we don’t talk much about the pandemic anymore, you know?

However, dealing with it was not only a huge challenge; it was one with no guidelines or understanding of how long we’d have to cope with it initially.

It was frustrating getting sick, seeing teammates getting sick, missing games, etc.

It just felt like everything was working against you.

All of us — students, teachers, and coaches — need to give ourselves more credit for how we dealt with it.

Sometimes, just getting through something is enough.

Covid-19 qualifies as that.

With all these experiences, I became not just a better student or athlete but a better person.

These challenges created pressure.

And after my undergrad years, I’m happy to report that this pressure helped shape me into the person and player I am today.

In fact, the first college to ever reach out to me was also the one I would ultimately call home, Stony Brook. They reached out after my first AAU trip, and I wasn't certain I'd go there right away, but the conversation was enlightening. I kept an open mind, and when I visited Stony Brook, that's when I knew. Have you ever been somewhere new and felt like it was home? To me, that was Stony Brook.

Back like I never left

When my four years came to a close, I had the opportunity to take a fifth year because of Covid.

In all honesty, continuing my education and athletic career was an easy decision.

Stony Brook had given me so much, and I felt there was more I could give and get.

Playing ball for a fifth year, I have a new role.

Now, I’m a leader of the team and working to push our girls to reach another level.

It’s great to be inspired and inspiring.

Every day, I’m eager to get to work and continue building this program.

There might not be many playing days left for me here, but I’m more focused on making the days count instead of counting the days.

Multi-dimensional

My biggest takeaway from my time here is that we are not just one thing.

We are many different things to different people in different scenarios.

As I look ahead toward the next chapter in my life, I’m approaching it with the same curiosity I had as a kid playing sports.

It’s all about just trying things and keeping an open mind.

I’m utilizing my business acumen, working towards my MBA, and even doing some music here and there; it’s all a part of who I am and what I do.

Whatever life throws at me after Stony Brook, I know I’ll be prepared for it, thanks to Stony Brook.

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