An Open Letter To My Teammate As He Prepares For Nationals

An Open Letter To My Teammate As He Prepares For Nationals

"It's okay to want something that terrifies you" -Alexi Pappas.

The cold, frigid temperatures didn't stop you. You gave everything you had, every hill, every stride, every moment, you never gave up. You believed in yourself and knew what you had to do to get what you've been working for all season. You did it, you really did it.

Tears rolled down my face watching you accomplish the impossible. I've never been this emotional before watching somebody compete in a cross country race. You never seize to amaze me with your talents, all of your hard work this year has finally paid off. Coming off an injury over the summer, it's still hard to believe that somebody could have such an amazing comeback. You have been patient all season and finally got to show everybody what you can do.

When I first met you, I'm not going to lie, I was very intimidated by you. You were fast, tall and determined to make an impact on this team and the school. We were both new to the team last year and both were going through the same things. You became one of my first friends on campus, making sure I was handling the new environment well and kept me on my feet. I'll never forget all the long, crazy stories you've told me about all the road races you've ran and how excited you were to run in college. You told me some big dreams you had coming into the collegiate running scene and I got to watch you accomplish one of those dreams.

As you prepare for nationals, I want to share some advice with you, some things that I tell myself before races and some things you can take with you and remember all the way up to the moment you toe the line in Evansville, IN, to the moment you cross the finish line.

You are just as strong as everyone there. Go into the race with the mindset that you're going to be the next national champion, because you can. There is nothing wrong with telling yourself that you can win, you're physically fit and as coach would say "all the hay is in the barn". Everything will take care of itself, you just need to be mentally tough. If you tell yourself you can, you can. Running is a weird sport, who wants to go out and see who can run the fastest? Well, sadly, we do. It's a sport seeing who is the most mentally tough and who can fight through the pain the longest. Yes, running a personal best is a great feeling, but finishing a race is one of the biggest accomplishments anyone could every dream of.

Be thankful for your opportunity to run. This is every runner's dream to run at a big national meet. There's only so many times you will be able to run a collegiate cross country race, make every moment count. When you feel good, run faster and pass people. Don't hold yourself back to what you're capable of and hey, the faster you run, the faster you're done! Remember this summer when you were injured and had to take time off? That has made you even stronger mentally and physically, when the race gets tough and you feel like you can't go anymore, you can. Your body will carry you through. You have the potential to crush the competition if you believe.

Run your heart out and always remember the reason you run.

"The best pace is suicide pace and today feels like a good day to die." - Pre.

One last thing, I am so proud of all the things you have overcome as a runner and a person. Never in my life have I been so proud of somebody before. You have shown me and the team that anything is possible. It's crazy to think that you only started running last year. I admire your work ethic, how a day off to you means hours of cross training and not actually taking a day off. I look up to you, you have shown me what it's like to be a humble, kind, and loving human being. I can't thank you enough for the things you have brought to this team and how much you care about each and every one of us. You lead this team like nobody else can. The amount of love you have for the sport tops everyone else, running has shaped you to be the person you are today.

Congratulations and good luck in Evansville, you deserve this more than anybody.

"Don't be afraid to give up the good and go for the great." - Pre.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Daniels

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An Open Letter To High School Athletes In Their Senior Season

For those athletes that have handed or will hand in their jersey. This one is for you.

As I’m sure you know senior year is an exciting time. You’re the “big dogs”, as my teachers would put it, of the whole school. This is the year you are able to do all the things you’ve waited for the past three years. You can sleep in every morning because you don’t have class until nine or leave school early because you don’t have a last hour class. It’s great, right? Right.

However, this year, although it’s arguably the best year of high school, could also be the hardest. No, not hard because of classes or homework or actually having to decide on a college. Hard because it’s full of lasts. Last Homecoming, last spirit week, last Sadie’s, last school pictures, last musical.

And for many, the last time you’ll wear that jersey.

Of all the lasts that will happen this year, that has to be toughest one. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones that will continue playing your chosen sport into college. Congratulations if that’s the case for you and I hope you continue playing as long as you can.

For those athletes that have handed or will hand in their jersey. This one is for you.

When you started as a freshman four years ago, you might have had little clue what the coming years would bring. As all freshmen do, you dreamed of making varsity and playing in every game, or earning as many medals as you could. The possibilities were endless.

Now here you are, in your senior year. Maybe you’ve won a state title or two. Maybe you’ve set new school records. Maybe even state records. No matter the case you’ve played your heart out for the past four years on the field and court. You’ve woken up at five in the morning for workouts and practices. And you’ve stayed until ten at night trying to get every play in the book fixed into your brain. You’ve spent your Friday nights under those nights no matter what the weather was like, rain or snow. You’ve spent your Saturdays at volleyball tournaments and your Sundays resting knowing that Monday’s practice would be a rough one. You’ve missed nearly a whole day of school for track meets or games that were just that far away.

You have had tan lines like crazy from your tennis uniform. Softball and baseball players have one hand darker then the other and golfers have legs three shades lighter than their arms. If you were like me you'd complain about how bad your tan lines looked in homecoming pictures (thank you tennis).

It never seems like it's your last year until senior night comes along. At least that's when it hit me. Then the next thing you know the season is over and you're handing in the uniform you've had the past couple of years.

So when you go to hand in that jersey or uniform remember the last four years. I hope you remember all the bus rides to and from games laughing with your teammates. The team dinners before games and the banquets to celebrate the season. All those early morning practices you dreaded until your coach came walking in with a box of doughnuts. All the games, win or lose, rain or shine, windy or hot. All the bruises and cuts you got that seemed to take ages to go away. Every practice you had to run extra for having too many fouls or turnovers. The pep rally’s for the first game of the season. The way you felt when you made that three, scored on a serve, caught that pass, or won that medal.

Because that chapter is or is almost over. The past four years you have been an athlete, I hope you showed it in every way. One day you won’t be an athlete anymore, so take this time to enjoy it and play with every ounce of passion you can.

Cover Image Credit: Rebekkah Wamser

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Here's What I Learned Going To A Gun Range

First of all, remember to put on earmuffs.

Over Spring Break, my roommate and I decided to try out a couple of activities we've never done before. We decided to visit the gun range to experience something that is very present in our lives. Coming from a country where private ownership of guns is largely outlawed, I first encountered a drawn gun during the USC Fertitta shooter scare of 2017.

Even so, I can say that I am 'familiar' with guns, and by that, I mean it's everywhere-- in movies, video games, and other media. Branding a gun looks so effortless when the hero of the movie jumps in to save the day, but knowing that real life is never like the movies, I wanted to experience what shooting a gun is truly like.

I started to sweat profusely the moment I entered the gun club lobby. All sorts of guns were hanging on the walls, and the sounds coming from the range were LOUD. After getting our gun (AK-47), ammunition, and protective gear, we headed to the range-- WITHOUT OUR EARMUFFS ON.

It was such a common sense thing to do, but our nerves got the best of us. My heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach when that shot went off, and my ears were ringing for about a minute.

It took us a while to gather ourselves and make sure everything was on. The first thing that hit me when I first entered the room was the smell. I guess that's what they meant in novels when they describe the smell of gunpowder.

Then, it was time to shoot.

What I was most afraid of was the kickback, because I hear about people getting hurt from the force. But when I pulled the trigger, the thing that made me jump was the sound-- not the smell or the kickback. The sound wasn't only loud, but very distinct and punctuated-- it took me by surprise even though I was expecting it.

After a couple of rounds, and lots of pictures, we were done.

It was a learning experience; I had never held such a powerful weapon in my hand, and I went in knowing that it's not a toy that you hold and look cool in.

I would definitely do it again.

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