An Open Letter To The Aspiring College Athlete

An Open Letter To The Aspiring College Athlete

What you need to know before you go.

If you are involved in a sport and are seeking to play at a higher level, I must first commend you for your bravery and discipline to travel a road much less traveled. You’ve made sacrifices and missed parties and passed up hangouts with friends because of your sport. You’ve used your sport as an excuse to get out of things and hated when it’s the reason you have to miss out on something awesome. You’ve done a lot to be where you are, but if you want to play in college, there are going to be a lot more sacrifices in your future. This is an open letter to anyone considering pursuing a collegiate career in his or her sport about the things you need to know before you get there:

1. College athletics is a whole different game.

Whether you play football, or golf, or soccer, or tennis or are a member of the dance team, the level of intensity and demand your sport has on you in college is unlike any you experienced before. It’s not just your sport, it’s your job, and it’s a job that requires you to work 24/7 because, in reality, everything you do affects your sport and you always have to be conscious of the decisions you make.

2. You may be called a "student-athlete," but we all know you're really an "athlete-student."

Everyone tells you academics are the most important thing, which they are, but it’s hard to find the willpower to stay up until 3 a.m. studying biology when you have a 6 a.m. practice the next day. I’ve done it. Others have done it. But at the end of the day, your time and energy revolves around your sports’ activities, and the sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be learning how to manage time, or learning how to sleep with your eyes open while cramming three chapters the night before a test. Oops.

3. Sports in college will be one of the hardest things you'll ever do.

People are quick to say that college athletes are spoiled, and it’s mainly because of the gear that they get. Here is what I say to those people:

Wake up at 5:30 a.m. to run until you throw up. Workout so hard that you’re certain you’re only a few movements away from blacking out. Try really, really hard at something to only be yelled at and told that it wasn’t good enough, and then work five times harder to make sure it is good enough. Risk your body and health in order to win that tackle, or land that flip, or get over that bar. Sprint so hard that your legs feel like Jell-O, but you can’t stop because you have people relying on you to keep going. Then do it all again. Every day. In season and off-season. Now tell me that I’m spoiled for getting a T-shirt that represents my sport and how I am currently investing the majority of my life. *Mic drop*

4. Expect to be misunderstood.

It’s hard to explain tears of frustration after a rough practice or that you’re moving slowly because you ran a lot of sprints this morning or that you kinda smell because you didn’t shower this morning because you decided to sleep a little instead (guilty), but it’s okay. Don’t be bitter towards the people who tell you, “Oh, yeah, I’m really sore, too; I went for a run this morning.” As much as you want to ask them if they had someone screaming at them to go faster or made them run more than they were supposed to, you don’t need to. Because they probably are sore from their run and they most likely did not have a coach yelling at them. It’s okay to be different from the people around you and to feel a little misunderstood because there are a lot of things that you do not understand fully. You have a unique lifestyle, but it’s good to be kind to the people who don’t know what you suffer through because they have some things they suffer through that you don’t know about, either.

5. You never take your jersey off.

Even when you’re not competing, you are a symbol of your school and what you do is a direct reflection on your program. You should take pride in knowing that all that you do is being watched and monitored by those around you, and with that pride comes great responsibility to bring honor to your sport and school.

6. Remember that you're not alone.

On the nights where you can’t seem to stop the tears from falling because you miss your mom, or your dog, or your bed (guilty again), remember that you have teammates who are in your same situation and understand more than anyone what you’re going through. They have either gone through or are going through something similar to what you are, and it makes things so much easier when you let them into your life and when you share your problems and feelings with them. They are always on your team. Literally.

7. Embrace your forced friends.

For a lot of us, we end up going to a school that’s far away from home in order to play our sport. We leave behind our parents, our hometowns, and our best friends. It’s not easy to pick up and start a new life in a new city with thousands of new faces, but lucky for you, you have forced friends. Teammates. Your team really is your family. Not only because they see you at your worst, bent over looking like you’re ready to die after a hard session of fitness, but because you are literally forced to be around them all the time. Like a family, you didn’t get to pick who each of your teammates were. As I’ve grown closer to my teammates, I have made some of the best friends I have ever had. Even though you are at school to get an education and be successful in your sport, the relationships you make with the people in the jerseys beside you are the most rewarding part of your entire collegiate career. So embrace your forced friends because your college career will end, but the relationships you made along the way will last a lifetime.

Cover Image Credit: Jo Jones

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Why Football Concussion Crisis Spurs Innovation

As the concussion crisis threatens football, the game has never been safer.

In 1906 Upton Sinclair published his novel, the Jungle, describing the horrific and inhumane practices of the meat packing industry. Following his novel’s publication didn’t come a shut down of the meat industry, rather, there was a critical overhaul in regulations and practices.

This is what we are seeing in football today.

With the concussion crisis being named as the “end of football” it is important to realize that some of America’s finest minds are working to solve it.

The helmet technology of the past has been nothing more than simple padding in a hard shell. Until recently the last major upgrade in helmet technology was adjustable air bladders introduced by Riddell… in 1971. This is the year that Elon Musk was born and when communists were a larger threat to Americans than any sort of concussion.

The concussion crisis has sparked a charge in innovation for equipment manufacturers never before seen in the sport. New companies like Vicis and i1 Biometrics are creating football technologies that aim to reduce concussions in football. Vicis alone has gained millions in support in just a few years to create on of the safest helmets in football.

Not only is the technology advancing quicker than ever, but more attention is being paid to tackling form. High schools across the nation have been using helmetless tackling drills to show that a helmet is a tool, and not a weapon.

Officiating has also been modified to limit dangerous practices on the field with harsh penalties for illegal hits.

Concussions in football will never be stopped completely, but by changing the way we think about them, we can make the game safer at all levels.

Cover Image Credit: Vicis Helmets

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7 Ladies of the Olympics You Have to Know

These badass woman are ready to dominate at the Olympics this year

The 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang have begun, and there are plenty of fantastic athletes representing their country proudly, from figure skaters to bobsled competitors to curlers. Although there are plenty of incredible male athletes, there are also a huge number of incredible female athletes dominating the Olympics. Their drive, their passion, and their dedication to their sport makes them irresistible to watch and inspiring to see achieve their dreams. Here are 7 badass ladies you need to familiarize yourselves with ASAP:

1. Mirai Nagasu

Sport: Figure Skating

Mirai Nagasu has been one of my favorite figure skaters to watch, with her incredible performances and beautiful dresses, but she is more than just pretty spins on the ice. Mirai didn’t qualify for the Olympic games in 2014 but made an incredible comeback this year to land a spot on the Olympic Team. She is the first U.S woman to land a triple axel in the Olympics and helped U.S Figure Skating win Bronze in the team event.

2. Erin Jackson

Sport: Speed Skating

Erin, at just 25 years old, is the first Black woman to compete on the U.S Olympic long track skating team, after being involved in the sport for only four months prior to the Olympic Trials. She graduated from Florida State with a B.S in Materials Science, and is most likely skating her way to a gold medal! Talk about a badass woman.

3. Chloe Kim

Sport: Snowboarding

At just 17, she won a gold medal in women’s snowboarding halfpipe. She is also the first woman, at age 16, to have won consecutive gold medals at the X-Games. She is sure to win even more gold at the Olympics this year!

4. Mikaela Shiffrin

Sport: Alpine Skiing

At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Shiffrin was the youngest woman, at 18 years old, to win a gold medal in alpine skiing. She is ranked number one in the world for her event and is sure to come back strong for the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

5. Evgenia Medvedeva

Sport: Figure Skating

Evgenia is a Russian Figure skater and has set a world record for the highest scoring ever in a ladies’ short program at the Olympics. She’s just 18 years old; her routines are incredible to watch, and her performances often have incredibly meaningful themes behind them. Her short program had the theme “clinical death” leading her to first place.

6. Bradie Tennel

Sport: Figure Skating

This will be Tennel's first Olympic games, after placing first at the National Championship and dominating the competition. She is known for her incredibly effortless, clean skates, and will surely do well at the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

7. Maame Biney

Sport: Speed Skating

Biney was the first Black woman for the U.S short-track speed skating team at just 17 years old! She is also the second African-born athlete (born in Ghana) to represent America at the Olympic Games. Can’t wait to see her bring it in the short track skating event!

Cover Image Credit: I.e Flickr

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