There are SO many things that they didn’t tell you when you signed your letter of intent. No, I am not talking about how the school lunch sucks or how temptations are around every corner, which teacher will give you a run for you money, how to best study or anything like that. More specifically, most colleges make their campus, school, and overall daily activities look like it’s all rainbows, sunshine and daisies. THIS IS NOT TRUE. While most of you may be sitting there reading this like, “yeah no sh!#, Sherlock”it’s the hard truth. Going to college, and especially Cleary, is not like in the movies where it’s all party all the time, skipping almost every class, and nothing but good times and good vibes. Here is the real, raw and uncut version of the trials and tribulations of colligate athletics.
If you’re an elite or serious athlete in general you know one fact by now, as Michael Jordan said, most people do not play sports because it’s fun. OH NO. Most actually have come to the point that they resent it by the time they play in college, if you haven’t yet, you’re bound to get there so embrace it now. All the missed family event, missed birthday parties, missed social gatherings, missed important classes, missed final exam reviews, missed graduations, missed proms, missed adventures with friends and overall experiences can weigh on an athlete, their social life, and especially how others perceive them. However, it is our life. Entirely and completely. If you do not already, in college you live eat and breathe your sport. I truly do not know who I am without athletics. The sport truly is your identity; it embeds part of itself into your hardwiring and leaves a scar. We thrive off of the singles, grand slams, team bonding sessions, great workouts, a conditioning practice where you lived to tell the tale, the 24 hour bus rides to Florida, the never ending chants and cheers, your teammates, inside jokes, the painful as hell cleats, the extra sprint you ran because you couldn’t stop laughing at you teammates, the Gatorade, the close games, the pre-game jitters, the sunflower seed, the scars and bruises that became our personal collection of “trophies”, ALL OF IT. You live for the team that becomes your family whether you like it or not.
Let me make a few things clear right off the bat:
You will get so tired you literally want to cry
You will get emotionally drained
You will get pissed at a coach
You will fight with teammates
You will fall short sometimes
You will cry from the pain
You will doubt your skills
You will be exhausted
You will struggle
You will lose
There will be days you will forget why you even play.
There will be days your body will go numb because you’re so sore.
There will be days you want to quit. DON’T
IT’S WORTH EVERY SECOND
What is the hardest trial and tribulation you may ask me? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the picture above this. That was just five days ago in Akron Ohio when I was hugging my fellow captain senior centerfielder as we received the second place trophy in Nationals. Nothing will EVER describe the feeling of your body shaking, heart aching, tear filled eyed as you watching your rivals receive the first place trophy that you and the 22 other girls standing beside you have literally work every single day for the last 9 months for. Yeah there’s next year, unless you’re a senior, but that doesn’t matter. Any kind and comforting words from others seem to hurt more than help. You lost the biggest game of your life. Second place is the worst feeling you will have in your athletic experience along with your very last game. You lost. Point blank. All the hard work, motivation, blood, sweat and tears, the hours staying after practices hitting, the blisters you get from the constant swinging, the throb in your arm, the aching and soreness in your body that joins you the first day of the season only to leave after the season, it all added up and brought you this far just to fall a couple base hits short. Just like that you’re second place. To be fair, you and all your teammates put in all the work to get here and no one, and I mean no one, can take that away from you. Second place is good but it’s not first.
There are and will be plenty of thing they won’t tell you when you sign your letter of intent. In a few words, being a college athlete is a lot like receiving second place. IT IS NOT EASY AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS. It can be one of the hardest things you have ever encountered and most times you will feel like you or you team deserve first place but certain situations, games, plays, hits, practices, coaches and even players can make you feel like second place. Being a college athlete means the sport is first and the rest of your life comes in second place. No school will tell you playing college sports means you come in second place but it’s the truth. The sport will have to take first place as you, your body, your family, friends, and even school becomes second. With all of these triumphs and tribulations you rarely hear about, for the athlete that stays focused, driven and keeps things in perspective it will make them stronger, better and mold them to become the best that they can be, not just in their sport, but as an overall person. Maybe second isn’t too bad.