So if you're reading this, I'm going to assume you've played sports at some time in your life. Whether or not you stuck with it or fell in love with it, is another story. But I was the girl whose world revolved around her sport. I wanted the soccer ball pillows in my room, I sported my soccer tournament t-shirts everywhere, and I kept up with the USA Women's soccer team's every move. Soccer was my life and love. My closest friends came from soccer. My favorite memories came from soccer trips and tournaments all over the world. My biggest lessons learned came from soccer. For years I swear it was like everything in me was created for the game and I thrived.
I never struggled with depression or anxiety, I always made new friends, I was given new goals to strive for, and was always healthy and happy. Honestly, I give a lot of my stability in childhood to the consistency of the sport and the team atmosphere no matter wherever I got moved to. I was never cut, never didn't make a tryout, and often got asked to play up on the higher teams. I got to play on the Olympic Developmental team for a couple of years and I played on a German team when we lived there. My schedule revolved around soccer and hanging out with my non-soccer friends rarely happened on the weekends unless we didn't have a soccer game.
I don't say all of this to boast and brag, I was most definitely never the absolute best player. But I share this all to really let it sink in how much this sport meant to me and how much I naturally and without hesitation, poured into it. Throughout all of those years, in the back of my head, was the one big deal goal: college soccer. Scholarships. Playing for a college. So I toured colleges, talked to coaches, and sent out emails. I fell in love with a campus in Southern Alabama and last minute jumped in a full day tryout camp. And just like before, I wasn't cut, I made the first college team I tried out for. And it was the highest level of collegiate athletics. What are the odds right? Could life be better?
The problem is, no one ever prepares you for the reality of college athletics. It's not for fun anymore. Your teammates will be more selfish than they were before and you may struggle to find genuine friendships amongst them. Your coach won't tell you straight up, you'll see blatant favoritism, and chances are you'll give absolutely everything you have, and still see no reward, no scholarships, no playing time, no respect.
It's a harsh reality and it smacks you in the face over and over again and it slowly but surely sucks that love for the game out of you.
You try to hold onto it. You try to remember that excitement and sheer joy you used to have before practice with your teammates. You try to focus on the positives and tell yourself that any sort of reward for your work and time and love doesn't matter, except it does. Because you used to do this all for love. But now it's hard to even do that. Because it's not for fun. You get yelled at and put on the line if you goof off in practice, you have teammates talking behind your back, you have a coach who tells you one thing and tells someone something different. There's no consistency or stability anymore. It's not a safe haven or getaway from the rest of the world.
So in just four college years, I lost my love for the game. I don't want to walk out onto that field anymore. I don't want to lace up my boots and juggle for fun. I'll watch my younger siblings play and only then do I miss it a little bit. I miss the creativity and freedom and fun. But when I see my teammates getting ready for practice or talking about the team or games coming up or coach, I don't want anything to do with it. I put my four years in. I saw it through. And sure it taught me perseverance and hard work and humility, but it also sucked me dry. It turned me into someone I wasn't and in just four years I lost my love for the sport I loved my whole life.