For The High School Athletes Who Couldn't Reach The Bar

For The High School Athletes Who Couldn't Reach The Bar

I don't think I heard you correctly, let me go get my step stool...
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“I’m sorry, Caitlyn, but…you didn’t make the team,” my high school volleyball coach informed me. My heart sank in my chest and I let out the breath that I had anxiously been holding in. Tears swelled in my eyes, but a smile remained on my face. They told me that the bar had been set higher for the season. I took that to mean I was too short; I was about 5'1" at the time. I thanked them for the opportunity and walked out with my head down, ashamed to look at my teammates while the tears ran down my face. As I packed up my things, several of the girls approached me and were shocked when I mumbled the news. My mother had come to pick me up and I cried the entire way home about how unfair life was.

Being cut from the team after being a starting player the previous year broke my spirits. I felt worthless and lost my confidence. Eventually the girls phased me out because I was no longer "one of them," which caused me to have even more feelings of worthlessness. How did we go from being great friends who supported each other both on and off the court to complete strangers so easily? It is actually quite sad that these friendships were solely based on if I made the team or not.

Not only did I feel abandoned by the sport and the girls, but by my school as well. Athletes were looked at in a certain light, and that light no longer shone bright for me. If I couldn't be an athlete, then I felt I had nothing and was no longer important. Luckily, I became close with another girl who was cut from the team. We were in the same sad, little boat, drifting off into despairing loneliness. Not only were we unworthy, but we became irrelevant as well. The two of us vented to each other for a couple of years about the whole situation and moved past it by joining rec teams. We made color-coded workout calendars and stuck to them. And, might I add, we were damn good players on the rec teams, all five feet of us. Don't think we didn't have to go up against the varsity adversaries who played during the off season either. It was quite satisfying when they couldn't return our serves, but we were able to pass theirs. I felt like I mattered again.

This fueled my passion to seek out the volleyball coach at CSE. I set my own bar and tried out for the college team. And guess who made it? Me. At a whopping 5'3.5". The .5 is essential! I earned my spot as an Eagle. My dedication, perseverance, and passion for the sport has helped me become a college athlete. I did not let my failure prevent me from playing ever again.Yes, I was upset and hurt by my rejection, but I learned to work harder and now here I am; I have played in eighteen matches in a total of fifty-one sets, and have earned the respect of my peers. I know my numbers will keep going up because I have coaches who care about me and who don't just brush me off because I need a step stool.

I have achieved my goal. I am an athlete. A college athlete. I made it happen. If you are someone who was cut from a team, or don't think you are good enough, don't give up. Work a little each day for your passion and for your self. High school is only four years of your life and should not define who you are. I almost let it, but found the strength to define myself.

Cover Image Credit: Kaman Hung

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.

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On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

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