With all the employees we have around the world, we wanted to bring to light who we are here at IIL. Each month we will spotlight an employee from one of our offices. Here, we introduce Samantha Milhaven, Social Media Coordinator at IIL US.

March…a time when the weather gets warmer, flowers start to grow, and madness takes place. That’s right, it’s time for March Madness, arguably the best month of the year (depending on what sports you like to follow)

For those of you that don’t know, March Madness is the name for the NCAA basketball tournament that takes place every year. Viewers from all over the U.S. huddle around their T.V. to watch the men’s and women’s college basketball teams take each other on for the ultimate title of NCAA Champions. It’s competitive, dramatic, and so entertaining.

Especially for IIL’s Samantha Milhaven who has been a fan of the tournament for years, even attending the Women’s Division 1 Final Four in 2015.

One of the main reasons Samantha (aka Sam) has been so into the madness is because she has played basketball for 16 years. She started out in Kindergarten with other kids and took it all the way to college.

Basketball was more than a hobby; it became a way of living. By the time she reached high school, basketball had become such a norm that her friends would be more surprised if she didn’t have practice or a game during the weekend.

10404176_10205329853459432_4458996526634392111_nAfter years of hard work and one New York State Championship, Sam became part of the 1.1 % of females to continue on to play in Division 2 basketball at Adelphi University. Now, four years later she is a part of the real world with the lessons she’s learned in her back pocket for when life doesn’t throw the right pass.

The first lesson is that there are going to be a lot of people who you don’t see eye to eye with in life. Sam has learned this over and over again with players, managers, assistant coaches, and coaches. Sometimes her views and their views just didn’t match up but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that on the court everyone respected each other and focused on getting the job done…which was winning.

The second lesson is that in order to achieve success you need to work for it. This is something told to society everyday, but Sam did all she could to live it. Sacrificed nights out, getting to bed early, choosing the gym over a dinner out with friends, picking nutritional meals, and spending extra time in the gym to work on her game even if it was 11 at night. It didn’t matter, she was willing to do whatever it took. Now that basketball is behind her, she applies this to her goals in life whether it’s to be a published writer or to excel at work.

The most important lesson she’s learned is to love what you do. Basketball had been something she did for fun until it started getting serious. Once something feels like a job it’s easy to lose sight on why you did it in the first place. There were many times Sam felt like giving up, handing in her jersey, and walking away…but she loved the sport too much. She loved the satisfaction of making the shot and of being a part of a team so powerful. If she didn’t love it, why would she put herself through all the work?

10897088_10204800952277233_5438745507417341588_nBasketball has taken her all over the U.S., from upstate New York to Chicago, and all the way down to Virginia. She has made so many lifelong friends from the sport she is still in contact with today. Without basketball she’s not really sure who she would be as a person today. Along with the lessons above it has also taught her patience, understanding, kindness, and determination.

Now Sam coaches 9th and 10th grades girls in AAU basketball which travels all throughout the summer. She has found a whole new level of love and respect for the sport now that she coaches. “It gives me a new insight that I didn’t fully understand as a player,” she says about her experience coaching so far. “I sometimes forget that they don’t know what I know because they haven’t been in college yet. They haven’t gone through what I’ve gone through. So I try my best to prepare them for what’s waiting for them down the road while making them the best players they can be.”

She’ll also be attending the Women’s Final Four this year in Indianapolis, watching the sport she grew up falling in love with every day.