Since the first day of practice, freshman year, I knew I was joining something special. Being involved in a sport in high school was life-changing. I feel my high school experience was so much better because I played sports for my school. Being apart of a team in high school has shaped me into the person I am today.
1. I became apart of something bigger than me.
When I joined track and field along with cross country, I wasn't running for me, I was running for my team. It is no longer about me, but about WE and what WE can accomplish together.
2. I gained discipline.
Maybe it was the practices over the summer or Saturday 8 a.m. practices but I developed self-discipline. I knew there was a job to be done and I was in control of whether or not I got it done.
3. I made memories to last a lifetime.On bus rides to and from meets, we talked and joked. We shared our fears about the race ahead or celebrated first place. Together, we learned to make the best out of meets at 6 a.m. and hot practices. We have had conversations that only our ears heard or secrets only we knew about. All of these memories and stories that only us share, we will all take with us.
4. I gained a second family.
We started off as strangers then became friends which turned into family. We all have each other's back no matter what. We are not just teammates we are family. We spend half our lives together for four years.
5. I built a relationship with my coach.No one knows me like my coach (minus my family). He can tell when I'm having a good day or a bad day. My coach knows my breaking point, my vulnerable side and how far he can push me before I go crazy. The bond between an athlete and coach is unexplainable, there is so much trust built. A coach is the last person to talk to you before you step up to compete and in that moment you couldn't be rawer. I have to give credit to my coach for pushing me and believing in me even when I did not.
6. Being fit has become a must.If I don't run there is a voice in the back of my head guilting me to run. I do not sleep well if I skip a workout. Fitness becomes a constant need and lifestyle.
7. You become accountable to someone other than yourself.
On a Friday night instead of being out late, I am preparing to compete the next day. Playing a sport has made me accountable for someone else because on that Saturday morning I have an obligation to arrive healthy and sober. I would be lying if I said all athletes didn't party but that's not true. However, the most disciplined and dedicated athletes stay focused and safe. Beyond that aspect of accountability, you have a job to perform to the best of your ability for your team.
8. I gained a sense of pride for my school.
We represented something bigger than just a team of runners but a group competing for our school. We represented our school when we stepped up to the line.
9. I gained a respect for traditions.
Every single time we had our uniforms on it was a rule enforced by the upperclassman and a tradition that we have a shirt over our racing jersey. It was a tactic we use before we race.
10. I learned perseverance.
I learned to never give up and never give in. When things get tough so do I.
I can say with my whole heart that I would not be the same person I am now, had I not showed up that first day of practice. No one will understand unless they played a sport in high school what it truly means. I wear the fact that I run track and cross country for my school with pride.
Similar to the line in the song by Montgomery Gentry, "That's something to be proud of, that's a life you can hang your hat on," being a athlete for my high school is something I'm proud of. As serious and deep as it sounds I will take the memories and experiences with me to the grave.