I'm Not Sporty, And That's OK

I'm Not Sporty, And That's OK

Not everyone needs to be in a sport. If they were, who would cheer each other on?
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All throughout high school and college, sports are easily one of the biggest things talked about and participated in. Whether you enjoy baseball, football, track and field, soccer, or any other sports, there is a lot of pressure beginning in middle school to join a sport. I gave into this pressure, even though I knew even as a seventh grader that sports were not really my thing.

I first tried dance team. People who say that dance does not count as a sport has never tried going to a practice. Practices were four or five nights a week for multiple hours, with difficult routines to remember and skills to acquire and maintain and perfect. Plus, competitions on weekends and even some weeknights made it very difficult to focus on much else.

Also, when you are a person who thrives off of compliments and positive encouragement and your coach specifically says she is not the type of person to give out compliments, it made me feel like maybe I did not fit in.

So I later, quit.

Then in tenth grade, I tried track and I really enjoyed it! I decided to be a thrower because I have always hated running. I found really good friends and I enjoyed lifting every other day. However, I sometimes felt discouraged because it seemed as though everyone around me was getting better and I was staying stationary. I, unfortunately, did not end up continuing in college because the commitment was too big and I was worried I would not be able to keep up with school. So I had to end that.

In the beginning of the semester, a friend encouraged me to join rugby with her, assuring me that it was laid back and that the practices would not be too difficult. My first practice ended up being my last practice. I got so exhausted from the heat and the insanely difficult drills that I had to sit out for 75% of the practice because I felt like I would pass out. I still support the team and I watched them get all the way to the Final 4 in the nation (Go Gusties!), but when the spring comes and they start up again, I am pretty sure I will not be joining.

What I have learned through all these years is that it is okay to not be sporty or athletic.

You do not need to join a sport to make friends or to get into shape. There are lots of different ways to make friends or get into shape while actually enjoying yourself. One thing I found was musicals. I found a lot of good friends through it and I actually had fun and danced and it definitely felt like a work out to repeat the dances over and over! I also joined Key Club and found a passion for serving the community.

Basically, do not worry about the pressures of joining a sport. If you’re like me and know that it isn’t your thing, just know that there are a lot of different clubs and activities that you can join. You don’t need to try to fit in with the student athletes because that lifestyle is not realistic for everyone. Plus, who would be the fans if everyone always joined sports?

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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14 Fraternity Guy Gifts Ideas, Since He Already Has Enough Beer

Frat boys are a species of their own and here are some exciting gifts they will be ecstatic to receive!

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What more do frat boys love than alcohol, partying, and just acting stupid? Here are some gifts that help fulfill all of those needs for the frat boy in your life!

1. Beer holster belt

Whats better than one beer? Six beers! This fashionable camouflage accessory can be used for tailgates, beach days, formals and everything in between.

Price: $8.49

2. Phone juul holder 

You know those cardholders everyone sticks on the back of their phones? Well, now a Juul holder for your phone is on the market! This will save your favorite frat boy from ever again losing his Juul!

Price: $10.98

3. Animal house poster 

This Animal House poster is a classic staple for any frat boy. This poster will compliment any frat house decor or lack thereof.

Price: $1.95

4. The American Fraternity book

Does the frat boy in your life need a good read for Thanksgiving or winter break? Look no farther, this will certainly keep his attention and give him a history lesson on American fraternity heritage and tradition.

Price: $28.46

5. Beer pong socks 

These snazzy socks featuring beer pong will be loved by any frat boy. As for the way to any frat boy's heart may, in fact, be beer pong.

Price: $12.00

6. Condom case

This condom carrying case will not only protect condoms from damage but also make frat boys more inclined to practice safe sex, which is a win-win situation!

Price: $9.99

7. Frat house candle

Ahhh yes, who does not like the smell of stale beer in a dark, musty frat house basement? Frat boys can make their apartment or bedroom back home smell like their favorite place with the help of this candle.

Price: $16.99

8. "Frat" sticker

Frat boys always need to make sure everyone around them knows just how "fratty" they are. This versatile stick can go on a laptop, car, water bottle, or practically anywhere their little hearts desire.

Price: $6.50

9. Natty Light t-shirt 

Even I will admit that this shirt is pretty cool. The frat boy in your life will wear this shirt at every possible moment, it is just that cool!

Price: $38.76-$41.11

10. Natty light fanny pack 

This fanny pack can absolutely be rocked by any frat boy. The built-in koozie adds a nice touch.

Price: $21.85

11. Bud Light Neon Beer Sign 

A neon beer sign will be the perfect addition to any frat boys bedroom.

Price: $79.99

12. Beer Opener

Although most frat boys' go to beers come in cans, this bottle opener will be useful for those special occasions when they buy nicer bottled beers.

Price: $7.99

13. Frat House Dr. Sign

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Forget stealing random street signs, with this gift frat boys no longer have to do so.

14. Beer Lights 

Lights are an essential for any party and these will surely light up even the lamest parties.

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Please note that prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication. As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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What The 'Experts' Don't Tell You About Early Sports Specialization

A first-hand account.

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When most people think of youth sports, I'm sure they picture a mini soccer field with smiling girls in pigtails. Maybe they play a quick half-hour "game" that really only consists of picking grass and occasionally cartwheeling. Afterward, there are juice boxes and Rice Krispies treats on the field, and everyone gets a little trophy with a little spinning soccer ball. Regardless of how the game went, they all get to feel like winners.

My experience was a little different from this.

There is a rising phenomenon in our culture that has been gaining more and more exposure in recent years. This trend is known as early sports specialization. Basically, this is when a child begins intense training in a single year-round sport from a very early age in hopes of achieving elite status. Experts have a lot to say about the issue, and the majority have deemed this practice detrimental to both the child's mental and physical health.

I am a living, breathing early sports specialist now turned adult. And I have to say, I have mixed emotions about the subject. Much of the data collected is undeniable, and so much of it speaks to me on a personal level, reminding me of everything I have been through in my experience as an elite athlete. However, I cannot say I completely agree with the experts who believe that this trend should die, as I can honestly tell you I would not be the person I am today had I not committed to becoming an elite figure skater at age 5. It shaped who I am, and I wouldn't take it back for the world, even if some of the things I've gone through were rather bleak.

The circumstances I have undergone were not anomalies. I am simply another statistic, another number piling onto the data proving the rather destructive power this trend holds.

The first things to be affected most directly are a child's social interactions. Researchers have concluded that youth sports specialization almost always fosters social isolation. I can attest to this. As early as age 10, I began leaving school early to fit in more hours of training at the rink. Essentially my day consisted of nearly three hours on the ice and at least one hour spent off-ice training. Plus the time to warm up before and stretch/cool down after practices, I was spending nearly six hours a day at the rink. This was more time than I spent at school in a day.

Basically, my priorities got flipped backward. I saw my life as something that unfolded at an ice rink. That was where my friends, my peers and my role models all were. It was not a huge community, and it vastly isolated me from people my own age. As I grew up, I became more and more aware of the fact that I was not a "normal girl." And I didn't even necessarily know what normal people did or what their lives consisted of. Everything was skating to me. It was all I knew.

All this being said, I eventually cultivated a major identity issue, another trend that researchers have observed among young athletes like me. Being trapped in these intense and cutthroat worlds can eventually influence a child's perception of their quality as a human being—an athlete and not a person. I felt that if I didn't have skating I wasn't really worth anything, and it became very difficult to look in a mirror and distinguish myself as a person from myself as an athlete. It was all the same to me.

Possibly the risk that affected me most intensely is the physical risk, or the wear-and-tear that committing to a sport so early can inflict on your body. Chronic repetition of specific sports activities inflicts continuous microtrauma on the bones, muscles and tendons, making early sports specialist athletes susceptible to overuse injuries from a very young age.

By the time I was 14, I began dealing with multiple overuse injuries from my waist down that would only recur after they healed. I experienced several stress fractures in my right foot alone that would immediately flare up again even after I gave them proper healing time. It came to a point where my body simply could not handle the trauma anymore, and I'm sure I will experience repercussions later in life for the kind of training I sustained all those years.

So no, the experts are not wrong. The risks they have detected and exposed are all too real and definitely have a great effect on a child's life all the way into adulthood. However, what the experts don't tell you is this: specializing in a sport early on gives you the type of determination, grit, perseverance and work ethic that you need to sustain you through your entire life. Because I committed so much of my life to this sport and have been through so much in the process, I know now that there is nothing I can't handle. I'll always think to myself, "If I made it through that, I can definitely handle this."

I wouldn't trade a single grueling day of training for the character that it has instilled in me today. This is why I believe that if a child is truly passionate about something, they should not let these possible "risks" keep them from fully pursuing it. The long-lasting effect that chasing your dreams will have on your life is priceless, whether or not those dreams are ever attained. Because of skating, I am confident that wherever I am, whether it be a rink, a classroom or an office, I will know how to get up when I've fallen down, how to patch up my bruises, put one foot in front of the other and continue on.

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