As the end of my undergraduate collegiate experience comes to an end, I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on the past four years – four years that were primarily dedicated to collegiate athletics. As I recall all the memories made and the lessons learned, I’m overwhelmed by profound feelings of gratitude and appreciation.
Before the start of my senior season, the last season of competitive soccer I’d ever play in my life, the team was emailed over the summer and asked to think up things that inspire us and motivate us each and every day as we work towards achieving our best, most fit, selves for our fall season. While some may have laughed or shrugged off this ‘assignment’, I found it truly inspiring.
Being an athlete has become part of my identity, and for the first time in 16 years of playing soccer, I asked myself perhaps the most important question of all – why? Why put so much time and energy into living a life of an athlete? Not just any athlete, but a collegiate athlete? I didn’t have to think too hard before the reasons clearly came to mind. Here’s just a few:
1. Because I was blessed with the ability to physically move - to be able to run, to jump, to walk. These are all such special gifts that we all too often take for granted, but without them, being a part of a collegiate athletic team may not have been an option for me.
2. Because it is an absolute privilege to have had the opportunity to help others in the CMU athletic community – younger and older than I – some to adjust and to acclimate by sharing the wisdom I acquired over the years and others to just be a source of support.
3. Because it allows you to gain so much mental health – between learning the power of self-compassion, sacrifice, patience, forgiveness, determination, the list is endless. Over the last four years, balancing athletics and school allows you to learn so much about yourself; it is these lessons that are the most valuable for personal growth.
4. Because it allows you to fully appreciate what a blessing athletics is. To have continued playing a sport into an age of maturity has given me the opportunity to value its power. If I hadn’t continued my journey into college, I’m not sure that I would have seen all the beauty in the experience.
5. Because it provides you a venue that facilitates the formation of amazing interpersonal relationships. Without my collegiate athletic experience, I’m not so sure that I would have met all the incredible people that I know today – many who I consider to be lifelong friends.
As I mentioned before, I could continue on and on and on, but I’ll spare you the novel. In short, my college soccer experience at Carnegie Mellon University has been nothing short of life changing on so many levels and for that, I am forever grateful.