A Letter To My Sport From A Washed Up Athlete
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A Letter To My Sport From A Washed Up Athlete

You really don't know what you've got till it's gone.

A Letter To My Sport From A Washed Up Athlete
Julia Francione

To my beloved sport,

We've sure been through a lot over the years, haven't we? We made SO many great memories together that I'll keep with me forever. Although we've grown apart there is still so much I want to say to you.

We first met when I was just a kid. All you meant to me back then was that I got to put on a cool outfit. Getting dirty was suddenly not only acceptable but encouraged and game days always lead to ice cream afterward. I could barely tie my own cleats, let alone understand the rules or even what team I was playing for. You started out as nothing more than my favorite excuse to play outside with my friends for awhile. l don't think I anticipated that you'd stick around as long as you did. You became a part of my family's life and although some thought you took to much of our time, attention and money, we truly loved having you around.

You were the first to teach me that "playing like a girl" wasn't a bad thing. By your definition, it actually meant I was fast, strong, determined and probably winning too. You saw me through some tough middle school years when everything was changing. Instead of feeling awkward, ugly and uncomfortable in my own skin, I became powerful and confident as soon as I put on my uniform. You were my first love, my escape from reality, an outlet for anger and the best kind of therapy all in one package.

You introduced me to lifelong friends and some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Every team I was fortunate to be a part of was a wonderful experience. I know not everyone can say the same, but I was lucky. I played aside some amazing teammates for years and each one of them taught me something about the game or myself. I am blessed to have quite literally grown up beside these people and the bond we formed through our mutual love of you is something I will always cherish.

You also brought some of the best mentors I could've asked for into my life. All of the coaches I played for have influenced me in some way (even the ones I wasn't too fond of). Their pep talks were always exactly what I needed to hear and more often than not I could apply their philosophies to life off the field as well. I am forever grateful for all of their own time and effort they put in just so that I could have a positive experience.

Practice makes perfect.

Don't be a sore loser.

There's no "I" in team.

These and more I learned from you. Although understanding and applying them certainly made me a better player, they also made me a well-rounded individual. There is nothing more important than learning perseverance, sportsmanship, and how to function cohesively within a team. Unfortunately, these are not things everyone is able to grasp in their lifetime. I thank you, and every other sport, that with these simple lessons, have taught people how to function in society.

My friends that didn't know you never could understand why I willingly spent my summers playing game after game, sweating away in the heat when I could've been at the beach or by the pool. I always felt sorry for these people because they would never know how delicious watermelon tasted in a dugout in July or just how refreshing Gatorade could be after a doubleheader and they'd never love the songs on my pregame playlist as much as my team and I did. Did I sacrifice an absurd amount of my free time and social life for you? Yes. But what they didn't understand was that winning the championship game after a long weekend of tough competition was more fun than any party I might've missed out on. And the feeling of accomplishment in taking home a well-deserved trophy lasted way longer than any vacation.

Despite all of that great stuff, I'm not sure why I stuck around for as long as I did because to be honest, you weren't very kind to my body. Even so, every bump, bruise, scrape, cut, jammed finger, twisted ankle and broken bone I got from you was worth it. They each have a story behind them. And I still, all these years later, look proudly at the scars on my legs left behind by hundreds of successfully stolen bases. You toughened me up both physically and mentally. You never allowed me to give up, even after a particularly horrible game. You always pushed me to get out of whatever rut I was stuck in. You taught me that winning wasn't everything and sometimes it was just about doing your best. I can't thank you enough for getting that invaluable message through my head at such a young age.

I'll admit that since you saw me last I might be a tiny bit out of shape. The years I spent with you were some of my happiest and also my healthiest. You taught me that exercise can be fun and as much as I complained about all the exhausting training, nothing felt better than finally seeing tangible results from all my hard work. Sometimes I miss that feeling.

It was an injury that eventually tore us apart, but for some reason, I believe it was just time for us to go our separate ways. I think back on the many years I spent with you fondly and still find ways to mention you often. I do, however, regret some things.

I regret all of the times I complained about an early game that required waking up before the sun. I regret dragging my feet at a late practice because I'd have rather been out with friends. I regret the eye rolling that came with extra laps and the whining that came with conditioning. I regret every time I didn't try to reach my full potential out of laziness. I regret every moment I wished I could just be done with you already and every second I took for granted because, the truth is, I miss you a lot.

I truly believe that every single laugh, tear, fight, cheer, late night, early morning, long day, win and loss played a special part in shaping me into who I am today. I'm a better person for all the years I spent investing my time in you. Thanks for everything. And I do mean everything.

With love,

A washed up athlete

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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