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Life Lessons: What Would Sabrina Do?

April 5th, 2019 by dk

Sabrina Ionescu, the Ducks’ phenom guard, has collected more accolades than any trophy case can hold — PAC-12 Player of the Year, NCAA All-American, 2019 West Region Tournament Most Valuable Player, etcetera, etcetera. Many of us will be watching her play this weekend, hoping to see her earn even more hardware. But by Monday, the season will be over and we all — Sabrina included — will have to resume our lives. What life lessons can we learn from Sabrina?

Carve multiple paths to success.

Sabrina is seldom the tallest or the strongest or the quickest player on the court, but no player in collegiate history has combined scoring, rebounding, and passing better. If she returns for her senior year, she will likely double the next best player in NCAA history — men or women — for racking up ten or more points, rebounds, and assists in the same game. When Sabrina is prevented from scoring, she simply contributes more in other ways.

Each of us is good at something. Some of us excel at more than one thing. But getting good at multiple things can make you as unstoppable as Sabrina.

Help others succeed by sharing.

Whether she’s driving for the basket or surveying the court for a last-second shot, Sabrina is always watching for a teammate who is positioned well to score. She has a habit of looking over her shoulder when leading a fast break, checking for a teammate who may have an easier path to the basket.

You may have a neighbor or family member who can succeed with just a little help from you. Give them that chance and enjoy the success you’ve helped to create.

Help where it will make a difference.

I’ve watched Sabrina during warm-ups and after games and I can tell you that she never stops surveying the situation in front of her. She uses the same skill to find the young girls who want a signature or a smile and a high-five. She invests her attention where she believes it will make the biggest difference.

Eugene has a rich tapestry of non-profit organizations. Many rely on volunteers and donations. Keep an eye out for how you can help those who are doing the work you care most about.

Do your best, and have fun doing it.

Sabrina is a serious player, but she plays loose. During the rare moments when she’s on the bench, she never stops cheering for her teammates. She even tried scoring from the bench recently. Nobody ever said you can’t have fun and still be taken seriously, except maybe the referee who whistled Sabrina’s infraction against Portland State.

Enjoy the moment, but don’t live in it.

If Sabrina has a single defining characteristic, it’s her ambition. She’s constantly looking for ways to improve, for new goals to achieve. We could use a little boost of that same Vitamin A here. Sabrina may soak up a moment of celebration, but she uses every congratulation as fuel to reach her next goal. Every accomplishment earns you a brief pause in the action, to be followed quickly by, “What’s next?”


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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