To The Baylor Freshman Who Left Before Our First Home Win Of The Season, Stay For The Entire Game Next Time

To The Baylor Freshman Who Left Before Our First Home Win Of The Season, Stay For The Entire Game Next Time

Wear that Baylor Line jersey with pride and stay the entire game.

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There is a certain kind of energy on Saturdays here in Waco. People sport Baylor green and gold in every shape and form. Cowboy boots, gold and green attire, and the Baylor spirit filled McClane Stadium on Saturday, September 1st, the opening game of the 2018 football season. And somehow, the excitement and anticipation weren't enough for some members of the freshman class of 2022.

Last year as a freshman, I was excited to go to my first football game as a Baylor Bear. I was told about the feeling of running the line for the first time and the hype about Baylor football games. I ran that Good Ol' Baylor Line with pride, feeling like a part of the Baylor family as everyone in the stadium cheered my freshman class on. Feeling out of breath, I stared up into the crowd with the biggest smile on my face.

So on Saturday, as I stood in the stands this time, I felt the energy and excitement of the freshman class as they raced across the field. They filled in the gold bleachers just a few rows in front of me and the game started.

But as the first quarter went on, I saw the golden bleachers start to empty. Freshmen in gold jerseys started to leave the stadium as the Bears fought for the first home win since 2016.

And I was mad.

For the first time, I was witnessing a Baylor home win and people were leaving the stadium. Touchdown after touchdown people left the stands. Maybe they thought it was a guaranteed win that wasn't worthy of being watched. Maybe because it was Abilene Christian that we were playing that they left. Perhaps it was because they were tired and they wanted to go home. Whatever it was, I got mad at people leaving the game early. Why?

It was the first game of the season. The first game after a not-so-amazing season and we needed to support our Bears.

Yes, the game felt really long because the first quarter felt like forever. But as a freshman, you should be excited to watch every second of your college's football games. It's one of the best traditions you have as a Baylor student. That gold jersey you wear on your back means something. It represents the generations past, present, and future that have and will run the line. Running the line is one of the first traditions we have to participate in as freshmen. Just as we supported you running across the field, stay in the stands and support our football players.

As a sophomore, I was really excited to watch the freshmen run across the field just as I did last year. I stayed the entire time last year, singing "That Good Ol' Baylor Line" until I lost my voice. But as the freshmen section emptied, I felt heartbroken for those who had already left. They didn't get the chance to chant down the clock timer with 10 seconds left as the Bears were up 55-27. Fireworks went off as the game ended, and they missed out on that, as well as singing our school song.

So freshmen, next time, don't leave early. Even if we are losing with five minutes left in the game, stay. There's a reason that we stay for the entirety of the game. Our football players are fighting for a victory, so you need to stay and back the bears. We trusted the process. Now it's your turn to back our team.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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An Open Letter To The Coach Who Inspired Me Forever

Anyone who's found a love for a sport (or sports) while playing for rec teams, club teams or teams for a local school, can agree.. that somewhere along the way, there was a coach that changed everything.

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When I was five years old, my parents signed me up for my first organized sport. It happened to be the Fall of the year I entered kindergarten and the sport happened to be soccer. Now, at this age calling it, an "organized" sport is quite a reach. We met once a week, put on our colored pennies and ran around in a big field while a volunteer coach really thought they'd have the chance to corral us. That year, I continued through the seasons and got my first glimpse at a number of other sports. Cheering, basketball, and t-ball were all on my to-do list, and soon I was hooked.

Every week I would look forward to games on the weekend and a practice or two along the week. By the third or fourth grade, I believed I had narrowed down the sports I really wanted to play: soccer, basketball, and baseball. I played all of these until the fifth grade when it was first suggested that I switch over to softball.

I absolutely hated the idea of this but, that spring it happened. I was the first one to be "drafted" onto a team, that come to find out, was the team that always finished last. Even knowing this, I continued to play and learn every position and somehow leading my team to its first championship in years.

This.

This was the moment I learned to love the sport I least expected to, and first met the coach who would change my view on the game. Although the story leading up to this point may not have been the same as yours, we all know the moment we realized, this coach was going to change us.

For me, this coach over my middle and high school careers became one of the most important people in my world now revolving around this sport. He fought for my spot on the middle school team when the coach claimed I was "too young" and wanted to give older girls a spot. He pulled me to the varsity lineup as a Freshman and trusted me to catch every-game behind the plate of the senior pitcher who clearly had the speed and talent to pitch collegiately. He continued to mentor me, step by step as my role on the team transitioned from freshman catcher, to second baseman, to senior captain pitcher.

This coach changed everything for me. He taught me respect and accountability and I'd get out what I put into not only the sport, but all my other endeavors. He taught me integrity, and perseverance. But he also taught me how to have fun while I played. How to step onto the field and play my hardest, but know no-matter the score as long as I did my best it was a good game.

I had never known what it was like to have someone other than my parents be so invested in my success before. Of course, they're going to be there for every game, every carpool to practice and every early Sunday morning tournament. But often times, the coach who leaves it all on the field goes unnoticed. The coach who will sit after a game and cry with you after you played your very last game... the coach that truly made you believe in yourself.

So here's to him. Here's to the blood, sweet and tears left behind. Here's to "the good, the bad and the ugly" as he'd say, and learning that any bruise can be fixed by rubbing a little dirt on it. Thank you for your devotion. Thank you for shaping me in to the player I am today, and continuing to do so for others. Thank you for inspiring me everyday to be the best I could be.

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