Inside Athletics

Chandler Caufield - Senior Reflection 2015

Chandler Caufield - Senior Reflection 2015

Playing basketball for Carnegie Mellon has truly been a transformative experience. To the casual observer, I am just a normal girl. But I am different on the court. I do not just play basketball, I have been shaped by basketball: It structured my worldview, my work ethic, my personality, my leadership, and my life. My time here at Skibo always did and always will bleed into my normal life and allows me to achieve more, work harder and succeed where I never thought I could.

Growing up, I was constantly involved in athletics, and I was raised with a competitive edge that fueled me. I always knew I wanted to continue my basketball career into college, and I was lucky enough to be accepted into CMU and be given a chance to play here. Basketball is a part of me - I grew up with it, I have had struggles with it, I have loved it, and playing basketball at CMU has helped me to become who I am today. 

What’s funniest, though, is that on the surface, my basketball world and my normal world seem to have stayed relatively separate: Who I am during a normal day and who I am on the court are very different, and yet completely intertwined people, and so, to truly tell you my story, I have to tell you about who I am on the court.

The gym is my battlefield, each practice is a battle, each game is a war, my gear is my armor, my basketball is my weapon, and I am a warrior. In everyday life, I am relatively easy going, reserved, and calm, but on the court, I am something else: I am intense, physical, and determined to a fault. When I step on the hardwood, I change. I am driven by determination and aggression, and I never, never, never give up. I am not nice, I am a competitor. I love my sport. I love the bruises, scratches, and scars I get from it, and I love the lessons I have learned from it. It can teach you so much, from learning how to deal with adversity, to how to win (and lose) gracefully.

My four years at CMU are a perfect example of this. In 2011, the team had just hired a new coach. I was unknown, nervous, and coming into a completely new environment. In situations like these, physical ability is important, but mental toughness is what will put you a step above. The mental toughness needed to succeed is more demanding than the physical challenges in any sport, and it is this fortitude that is the connection between my two worlds. Although it is easier to imagine being a warrior on the court, the mental and emotional toughness needed to make it at CMU and in the real world-the mental toughness I have learned throughout my whole basketball career, but particularly as a Tartan-is truly what makes me a warrior. In my mind, a warrior is just that because he or she is tough, and so, I suppose that my mindset in basketball and life boils down to one word: Toughness. Life will knock you down, but through my parents’ guidance, my own missteps, and my time here at CMU, I’ve learned that it’s kinda fun to show off a good bruise, that each mistake makes you who you are, and that weakness is not failure to succeed, but failure to even attempt.