I'm writing this two days after my college soccer career came to an end. For four years I spent early mornings lifting insane amounts of weight, afternoons spent running insane amounts of sprints, and evenings spent catching up on insane amounts of homework. College athletics can drain you; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. In fact, it WILL drain you. You will hit mental walls, seasons of spiritual dryness, and physical exhaustion. It's not for the faint of heart.
You always hear how college sports are such an accomplishment and such a big deal. Like it's all notable and amazing and they just take a little hard work and time management. But no one ever tells you that it will test you (in EVERY way) and it has the ability depress you, defeat you, and turn you into someone you aren't. Because here's the thing, whether you like it or not, your world becomes so influenced by the sport you dedicate at least 5 hours a day to. You will get so consumed and sucked into every coach decision, missed pass, off practice, whatever it is, that it can and will run your world and emotions. And as I walked into the locker room to turn in my jersey's today I realized how silly it all was. The amount of times I cried tears cause I didn't get to wear that jersey for one home Friday game. The amount of times I let a word my coach said ruin my whole day. The amount of times I acted completely unlike myself because of every built up emotion of exhaustion or frustration from the sport.
For four years there was a constant inner fight to remain true to myself, my values, my integrity, my kind and generous heart, and my nearly consistent joy and happiness towards life. I was constantly pulling myself out of a narrow-minded viewpoint that only focused on this college soccer team in this small college town and reminding myself of the entire world out there and everything else that matters in it. Had I not been attentive to this inner battle, had I not practiced discipline constantly, and had I not fought to keep my faith at the front of my life - college athletics would have eaten me up and spat me out and I more than likely would be lost, defeated, and struggling with my identity.
College athletics isn't for the faint of heart. It's not for everyone. It's also not just an accolade or something to celebrate solely for the title. It's something that can make or break a person. It's something that can cause you to question everything. It's something that, when you do make it through all four years, will leave you with an immense gratitude for perspective, trueness to self, perseverance, and faith. For without those, you probably wouldn't make it through 4 years of college athletics, and even if you did, you probably wouldn't recognize the person in the mirror. So if you completed four years of college athletics, congratulations. I hope it impacted you for the better. And for those of you about to embark on the next four years of college athletics, know this - it is what you make it and you will become what you allow yourself to become.