Thank You, Oregon

Eric Evans/Courtesy of Oregon Athletics

If you were to ask me for the one thing that made me realize I loved basketball, it would have to be growing up watching my big sister Satou play. At first it was just a way to get out of the house and hang with her, but then it started to really get my attention. And by the time I was 15, all of a sudden I was playing on the German national team. That’s when I kind of started to understand, O.K. — I’m alright at this.

I haven’t stopped playing since.

And when it came time for me to pick a school…. well, I’m one of these people where if I don’t love a place, I’m not going to want to be there, you know?

Thankfully, I fell in love with Oregon.

As soon as I stepped inside Matthew Knight Arena, I could tell that I was somewhere special. I’d never seen that big of an arena for women’s basketball before. And I’d never really pictured myself playing basketball in front of so many fans before. But now I was picturing exactly that — and it was an amazing feeling.

Between my visit, and my conversations with the coaches and players, and doing my research about what an incredible school Oregon is, not only athletically but academically as well (and of course knowing how much Satou loved her time there), I think pretty soon I knew that Eugene was the place for me.

And I was right.

Nyara Sabally | Oregon Ducks | Thank You, Oregon | The Players' Tribune
Samuel Marshall/Courtesy Oregon Athletics

My time at this school has taught me so many things — including so many things about myself. I’ve learned that I can persevere through anything. I’ve learned that you are in control of your success and your happiness, no matter what is thrown in your way. And I’ve learned that getting to do what you love is a gift. Basketball is something to enjoy.

Unfortunately, this season didn’t end how we wanted it to. But even in a loss, that game was still Oregon Basketball to me — because we kept fighting to the end. And it’s that part of the experience that will stay with me. I wouldn’t have wanted to go out fighting with any other group of women.

Which is why writing this is definitely bittersweet. 

Because Oregon will have a place in my heart forever. Getting to graduate from this amazing university, with the support of everyone in this program, is something I’ll always be proud of and grateful for. And now I’m ready to take all those things I’ve learned, and bring them with me to the next level.

I’m excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2022 WNBA draft.

Nyara Sabally | Oregon Ducks | Thank You, Oregon | The Players' Tribune
Isaac Wasserman/Courtesy Oregon Athletics

Watching Satou get drafted a couple of years ago really showed me what was possible. Seeing her accomplish her dreams, and knowing how hard she worked in order to do that, it’s made me strive for those same things. And it really doesn’t get any better than having the opportunity to learn from your big sister…. and then getting the opportunity to play against her as a professional. It’s also cool to think about hopefully getting the chance to play on the same court as so many other great players in the league — players who I’ve only seen on TV, and have looked up to since I was a little kid. It’s a dream come true to be able to take this next step toward the W.

I want to thank my entire family — I honestly can’t thank them enough. They’ve supported me from Day One, and they’ve never stopped supporting me. (Especially Satou, who has answered every question and helped me so much when I was making this decision.)

And I want to thank Oregon for everything. I’m so appreciative of the coaches and professors I’ve had, who have all given me such a great education in so many different ways. And to my teammates: I love you guys, I’ll miss you a LOT, and I will always be cheering for you. (And to my freshman Philli, don’t be upset, I’ll come back to visit.)

It’s tough to leave…. but I’m excited to start this next part of my journey.

And wherever that journey takes me, I’ll know that going to Oregon was one of the best choices of my life.