Eight years ago, I never would've guessed colleges would be reaching out to me, asking me to come visit their campuses and more importantly join their elite volleyball teams. I heard once only 2% of high school athletes go on to play any division in college. How could I pass up that opportunity?
October came to an end, along with my last varsity volleyball season. Heading into sectionals, I was close with my teammates and more determined than ever. I scribbled our could-be game days in on our calendar, all the way up to the sectional championship. It was my senior year and an amazing team finally came together that my school probably wouldn't have again any time soon. This was our time to prove all that we've worked for to our parents, coaches, friends and most importantly, ourselves. We made it all the way to the championship and lost to our biggest rival. It's a hard way to end eight years of playing volleyball for the school.
On the bright side, club season was right around the corner. My focus was on the two days I had to demonstrate I was good at my sport to the coaches. I made the team and looking back, it was my favorite team to have ever been a part of. The friends, coaches, long weekend tournaments and road trips became my life. Seems perfect, right? But for the first time in my career, towards the end of my season, I found my love for the game slipping away.
I found myself on the court with these amazing people and players, but didn't feel the familiar fit I always had. I didn't feel the motivation to beat the team on the other side of the net by twenty points anymore. As much as I wanted to get excited, I knew the smile on my face wasn't as real as it used to be. There is no one to blame for this- not my coaches or teammates, they were amazing and not my parents, they supported me no matter what. Knowing all this, I came to understand I was the only thing wrong in the equation.
Once club ended and volleyball wasn't a daily part of my life, I didn't find myself missing it. Of course I missed the fun we had, but the actual game- I didn't feel the need to get my hands on a volleyball. I realized if I was going to be playing in college, this wasn't a good thing. My hands didn't meet the ball the same anymore, my serve wasn't as accurate as it was and overall something just felt off. I had let volleyball drift away. I willingly let it drift away.
With the final semester wrapping up, I was laid back and enjoying my last weeks of high school. In the back of my head lingered the thought of college volleyball. I was constantly stressed about making this decision that could literally change my whole college experience. I told myself to stop worrying and just go for the team and see what happens. I kept pushing the thoughts away, but they weren't going anywhere. If this was adding so much unneeded stress to my life now, how would I feel the week before move-in day, the night before move-in day? Probably out of my mind. I've come to know and understand myself over the past few years. In conclusion, I decided not to continue my volleyball career in college.
It was definitely not easy enough to come out and tell my parents this goal of mine was no longer a thing. It wasn't easy especially after almost two months of battling back and forth in my head- drowning in what if's and thoughts. It started as a confidence thing- what if I'm not good enough, if the coach pushes me too hard, if I don't have time for classes? Gradually, it turned into a- you know what, I don't genuinely enjoy the sport and my life is perfect without it. To them, it probably sounded like a lazy teenager who's ready to graduate high school. In reality, it was teenage athlete who's ready to move on, who's lost the desire she used to have playing her sport.
Letting down my family, becoming a disappointment and having to tell the coach I was done, were things I did not want to do. On the other hand, I did not want to be stuck in a season of traveling to games just to make my parents proud. I know they'll be proud of me no matter what, like I said earlier, they just want to see me strive in college.
It's all about knowing yourself, finding what you love to do and exploiting it. I'm super excited for college and making this decision has lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders. I hope to find myself passing the ball around at the beach courts outside my dorm with my friends and having the fun time I know volleyball can be without the stress of winning, being talented or constantly under pressure. I know I would struggle to handle a college volleyball season on top of art and school, so this choice I believe will benefit me. The day after I made up my mind, I can already tell I feel better.
My friend always tells me to put my happiness first. It's about time I listened to his advice.