You dreamed of being here. You worked as hard as you could to meet this one goal. You gave everything you had to get here. Welcome. Give yourself a quick pat on the back. The first semester of college sports is a whole whirlwind of emotions from fear to excitement to disappointment to stress to pure bliss. Here are 8 things I learned in my first semester as a college athlete that I remind myself every day.
1. Trust the process.
Everything comes in time, and people will get what they deserve. Don't give up on your self-improvement because you don't see immediate results.
2. Think big picture.
This is only the first semester of your first year in collegiate athletics. Relax. Breathe a little. Don't be consumed by one bad day at practice. Move on. The past is the past. There is plenty of future to worry about.
3. Control the controllable.
There are only two things that you can realistically control, your effort and your attitude. And the minute you think that you can control someone else is the minute you will fall behind. Be your best every day. Go to bed being able to say, "I gave everything I had to give today."
4. Mistakes are inevitable.
You will get farther in life if you accept failure with open arms. Greet it like an old friend. If you are afraid to fail, you will never improve.
5. Step up in every opportunity you are given.
Chances are few and far between. Make the most of every chance, no matter how small. Don't take them for granted, because once you step up, everyone else will be on your heels.
6. Nothing comes easy.
Come ready to work, or don't come at all. You're either all in, or in the way. Opportunity will rarely be handed to you. So, work your hardest when no one is looking, so that when that opportunity is on the line, you can take it.
7. Play for those who can't.
Play for those who can't, because someday, that could be you. Play for those who can't, because someday you could be the one with a career-ending injury. Play for those who can't, because there will come a day when your competitive career comes to an end. Play for those who can't, because you never know what can happen. Play every game like it's your last.
8. The game is small.
Life is more than a sport. It's more than a game. It's more than a playoff run, it's more than a championship appearance. Enjoy the little moments in between those games, in between those playoff runs and championship appearances. Enjoy the bus rides where you belt out the lyrics to everyone's favorite song. Enjoy the moments off the ice, field, or court. Enjoy the victory dinners and the movie nights after a tough loss. The game is small, make memories that will last longer than your athletic ability.
An unwritten lesson: listen to your coaches, listen to your captains, listen to your teammates. They just might give you lessons that you can pass on to the next round of first-semester athletes.