Growing up an athlete most definitely had its perks and downfalls. Between 5 a.m. fitness and the unforgettable feeling of stepping onto the pitch, there were moments of both defeat and triumph. I learned so much with an athletic upbringing. Even though my career came to an unfortunate end, living in the very rewarding world of athletics left me with so many lessons learned.
Be humble, because somebody will always be ready to take your place.
I can't tell you how many athletes I know whose head is too big and ego is just the same. I learned quickly that there is always more to gain, both in sports and in life. Becoming too content with our talents or staying in a certain comfort zone hinders our ability to enrich ourselves and grow as human beings.
Your team is your family — never take them for granted.
Teammates teach us to rely on others just as much as we do ourselves. They enable us to work as a cohesive unit. There's no situation in life that requires or benefits from a one-man show.
Your mental strength will always surpass your physical strength.
Mind over matter. We need to learn that nothing is out of reach. Our minds hinder half of what our bodies are actually capable of. If the mind is in a strong place, the body will work to reach its full potential.
Tomorrow is a new day and a new goal to reach.
We have "off" days. They're inevitable. We need to learn to handle these days with pride and wake up the next morning with every intention to better ourselves.
A commitment is a commitment.
I had so many friends growing up that didn't necessarily understand that my team and my sport came before my social life. We can't just "skip" practices and games just like we can't skip meetings and presentations. People rely on us every day, and letting them down ultimately means letting ourselves down.
Appreciate the people who support you.
It's OK to lean on those who help to make our dreams happen. But it's not OK to take them for granted or fail to show our appreciation. It's not always easy to say thank you, but it's definitely necessary.
When you fall down, you get back up.
This is hands-down the most important lesson, and why I saved it for last. I was knocked down too many times to count. It seemed like every year there was another knee surgery to be had and eight months of rehabilitation to follow. I lost count of how many times I wanted to quit. But I didn't. And after four ACL tears, I received the scholarship I worked my entire career for. And even though my fifth surgery eventually sidelined me permanently, I am determined to find new goals and explore new ambitions. Life will knock us down over and over again. And it's up to us to dust ourselves off and fight back with a vengeance.
I am forever thankful for the life I was blessed to lead growing up. Living a life of athleticism left me strong and ready to take on the world. There is nothing we can't do and no goal that we can surpass. My team, my sport and my support taught me more than my social life ever had, and I hope that young athletes everywhere learn to appreciate the game and the lessons that come with it.