I Could Have Been A College Athlete, But I Don’t Regret Choosing The Other Path
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I Could Have Been A College Athlete, But I Don’t Regret Choosing The Other Path

Thank you to the sport that made me who I am, but I don’t regret leaving you.

I Could Have Been A College Athlete, But I Don’t Regret Choosing The Other Path
Lauren Howard

Like many athletes, I started off playing sports since the day I could walk. I tried every sport imaginable, from rec league soccer to tennis lessons to dance, but in fifth grade, I found my sport that stuck. For me, that sport was volleyball.

Ever since I fell in love with the game I dedicated my time, energy, and focus to become the best that I could be. From a young age, I was playing on competitive club travel team that began to teach me the basics on being a good teammate, a strong athlete, and the overall concept of dedication to the game.

While continuing to play volleyball on a club team, I also started to play for my middle school team. Back in the day, I used to be the tallest girl around, so middle school volleyball was my “ish.” Well, that was until everyone caught up in size to me. Middle school ball was all about learning the basics the best that you could. No one was really THAT good, but everyone was definitely a try hard. Middle school was for sure the learning age when it came to sports and that’s exactly what I did, learn and learn and learn.

Then when it was time to go to high school I tried out for the team. Freshman year I made JV which was very exciting being the only freshman on the team. That first year in high school taught me what it was like to work with others different from myself, especially learning the difference in an age gap. I was also guided by great mentors that year. Being the youngest one on the team it was nice to look up to those role models.

Playing on JV was the first time I was playing against girls that were older than me and I loved it. It was awesome to play at a higher competitive level and playing at a higher speed. My coach that year sparked a fire in me that stayed lit for a long time. He really showed me how dedicated that I truly was to the game and how much I loved the sport.

The next year rolled around and I tried out again for the high school team and made Varsity. I played on varsity for the next three years. It was awesome, I played alongside my best friends and became great friends with those on the team that I wasn’t that close to before. I was more dedicated than ever before, always making sure I was to practice at least 15 minutes before we were supposed to be and always being the first one on the court. My high school coach was tough, and I had some difficulties with her but she also taught me how to think on my own and figure things out for myself.

Around Sophomore year the college recruiting process began and I was more than excited to prepare to be recruited to play at the college level. From making my recruitment video to emailing and getting in contact with coaches, I was more than determined to play at a top school that I loved. After receiving many letters in the mail and coaches reaching out to me to play at their schools I started to get nervous.

I spent hours and hours in the gym training, practicing my footwork, arm swing, and anything else that I needed to work on. I would come in early and stay late to get extra reps in that I knew I needed to become just a little bit better than I was before. I looked to my coaches for guidance, had them videotape me and critique me on just the little things that would hopefully make the biggest difference.

Now, looking back at my high school self and digging into my life, I would have 100% told you that in college I would be playing volleyball in college. Today that is not the case. There was a little part of me that was always hesitant on playing volleyball in college. One of the biggest reasons was that I knew I would never be able to play at my dream school, University of Kentucky. I always saw girls older than me go off to school and fall out of love with the sport that they played and then they were stuck at a mediocre school that they weren’t happy with, and I did not want that to happen to me.

Volleyball taught me so many different life lessons, taught me different aspects of life, ways to look at the world around me, and how to grow as a leader and I am thankful for that time in my life. When it came to college it was time to move on and take my athlete hat off and turn a page in my book.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love the sport, but more of a realization that it was time to move on to bigger and better things. I had spent so much of my time in my life that was aimed only at volleyball and there were things that needed more focus in my life. In high school I struggled with grades and I didn’t care about school too much because I was always worried and focused on volleyball. I knew that coming into college I needed to change my way of thinking and focus more on school, and that is exactly what I have done.

The life lessons that playing a sport teaches you are amazing and lessons that I will never forget. From the aspects of working with others to growing as a person, it is something that every person should be able to experience at some point in their lives. I want to thank all of the coaches, teammates, fans, and mentors that had guided me along my athletic journey and have helped me to be who I am today.

I will never regret passing on the opportunity to play volleyball in college. I love being at school and taking on new experiences in my sorority and learning new ways of leadership being an officer. I have been able to focus more on school and my future, rather than being solely focused on athletics. I also want to give a huge shout out to those athletes that have continued their athletic journey to the collegiate level and higher! Keep balling out and doing great things.

Thank you to the sport that made me who I am, but I don’t regret leaving you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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