When That Good Thing Comes To An End

When That Good Thing Comes To An End

My thoughts going into my final days of my college swimming career.

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If you ask any swimmer, they usually have been in the sport for a double-digit number of years.

For me, it's 12.

I started swimming in elementary school and it was in middle school that we became exclusive. It was the only sport I did and it happened year round. Needless to say, it became my whole identity — I honestly don't know what my hair looks like without the chlorine damage.

But within the next two weeks, Katie the swimmer with cease to exist. I'll carry the lessons the sport has taught me alongside me for the rest of my life; but the early mornings, the seemingly endless workouts and the camaraderie of the team are coming to a close.

And all I can think is "How did this happen?"

I spent my senior year counting down the Sunday's until I finished, but what I failed to do was cherish the time I had left. And because I wished the time away — I wished away the good times; the times where it was beautiful and fun. But I sit here with two weeks left, reminiscing on my career with nothing but gratitude.

There were many times I wanted to quit and weeks that I just wanted to fast forward. But these next 2 weeks I just want to slow down.

I've started to slow down my walk alongside pool, taking in every detail of the building that I look at with misery.

I've started to see my teammates in a new way, looking at them with love and gratitude in a new way.

and cherishing the advice from my coaches — because I know that they are approaching me with love and interest.

So instead of feeling sadness as my time as an athlete comes to an end, I'm approaching this time with gratitude. College swimming has brought me the best friends I could have ever made, made me take more naps than I can count and has put me to bed before 9 p.m. on Saturday nights — but I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

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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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The SUPER Super Bowl

A Ballerina's Pointe of View

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For most of my life, Sunday afternoons in winter have meant lacing up my pointe shoes and putting on my game face. No, not for football, but for "the summer intensive." Dancers across the country (and internationally) vie for a coveted spot at a top ballet school. This year, I am not competing for such a spot and finally had time to sit and watch the always-hyped Super Bowl! My fellow dorm-mates watching with me, quickly labeled the low-scoring game as "underwhelming." Perhaps in an effort to justify my time spent in front of the TV, this dancer/writer made an effort to see what was "super" about this year's Super Bowl.

As a student at USC, I was cheering for the Rams! Not only are they an LA-based team, but they play home games at the LA Coliseum, the same venue as our own football team. I will admit it was a painful experience to watch them walk away without even one touchdown; even friends on USC's football team admitted to me that they did not watch the game past half-time.

However, despite everyone's deadpanning of the game, I found joy in watching it from start to finish. I did not do this because I thought the Rams would make a comeback. What I found is that I genuinely enjoy watching football and studying the movements of the players -- there is an athletic grace that can be found in most plays and the moves can be broken down into balletic steps. (In fact, football players see improvements in their game when they take ballet. But that topic is for another article. Stay tuned!) I love it when the slow-mo replays show the positions the body takes -- the height of the jump, the split in the air, the jukes left and right, the balance and agility, and even a lunge to tackle. All such movements appear to embody dancing to me; I loved analyzing the movements and thinking about how the athlete could have moved differently for a more successful play.


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Another "super" aspect of the low-scoring Super Bowl game is that defensive plays were given a chance to shine. A friend of mine and member of USC's football team, Solomon Tuliaupupu, relished the game. He said, "Being a linebacker, I actually enjoyed the long drives where the linebackers had to constantly play their assignments correctly or risk letting a big play go." Solomon also explained "a lot of powerful movements on both sides of the ball from both teams." That doesn't sound boring, does it? A high score is not necessarily an indicator of an exciting and skilled game if you change your view. Bringing this back to dance, a soloist or prima (in this game, for example, the prima could be likened to the famous Patriots quarterback Tom Brady) may initially seem to receive all the glory and audience accoladesbut it is the corps de ballet, the dancers in the back that support the cast and allow for the storyline to continue.

How can I continue discussion of the Super Bowl without mention of the ads? Even these, with their nostalgic touches seemed "standard" and "nothing special" to my friends. I, on the other hand, LOVED the dancing. In the Expensify commercial, the viewer is immediately drawn into the bold moves and music, because it was a literal music video featuring Adam Scott and 2 Chainz. As a dancer, I appreciate the incorporation of dance into mainstream media. As seen in this music video ad, the dancers enhance the overall performance and this commercial made it "actually cool" to do your expenses through Expensify. A second example would be the one for the NFL. In the star-studded NFL commercial, I found it so entertaining how all the players moved and turned like a choreographed dance.

Finally, many even gave the halftime show a so-so rating. The NFL played it safe with an apolitical performer in Adam Levine. In these divisive times, I did not mind that. I actually do not think anyone would have received a positive review, given the controversy with support for Colin Kaepernick and several big-name performers declining the opportunity to perform.

In conclusion, although it won't go down as the most riveting game, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. From the game to the commercials to the half-time show, it was an afternoon of PERFORMANCES -- not too different from a dancer having to perform in front of a critical audience. Sometimes you won't win over your critics right away, but longevity and perseverance onstage will bring respect. I will definitely watch again next year to see which coaches and players have the grit to be there for the curtain call.

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