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.
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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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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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What Drew Brees Becoming The All-Time Pass Leader Really Means

There is nobody else who deserves this accolade more.

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For anyone who watched the Saints and Redskins game, they got to witness a moment in history. On a 62-yard touchdown pass, Drew Brees became the all-time leading passer in the NFL. For someone who many considered too short to play in the NFL or called him done after a shoulder injury, Brees has come a long way and has victimized opposing team defenses. He is also on his way to joining the 500 touchdown club that is home to Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Tom Brady. Throughout the game, current and former players were tweeting their support for Brees and how happy they are for him. As someone who grew up two hours from New Orleans, I can admit how happy I am for Drew Brees but he was not just having a record-setting night he was showing the city of New Orleans how much they mean to him.

The NFL is weird. People who are considered experts try to determine who will be successful in the NFL and who won't. Tom Brady was told he didn't have a strong arm and lacked a tight spiral. Drew Brees was told he seems more comfortable in the short/intermediate passing attack and wasn't tall enough. Whoever these experts are must not do a good job looking over these guys. Drew Brees journey to being the all-time passer is an interesting one. He grew up in Texas where he leads his high school to a state championship, was 28-0-1 as a starter and was the honorable mention for the USA Today All USA High school football team. However, despite his accolades, only two colleges were interested in him and ultimately Brees went to Purdue.

After excelling for four years at Purdue, Brees was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. After some up and down seasons with the team Drew Brees showed his dominance and was invited to his first Pro Bowl in 2004. This seems like a great start to the career for Brees, however, despite his success the Chargers went out and drafted Eli Manning with the first pick in the NFL draft in the 2004 NFL Draft (later traded for Philip Rivers) this event seemed to spark Drew Brees and now it looked like San Diego had their quarterback.

In the 2005 season, things would look bleak when in a game against the Denver Broncos Brees fumbled and jumped for the ball. After jumping on the ball one of the Denver players Brees in the shoulder causing a labrum injury. He needed surgery and at the end of the season, Brees decided to find a new team.

So what does this have to do with New Orleans? Well in 2005 New Orleans had experienced one of the worst hurricanes in the United States known as Hurricane Katrina. The city of New Orleans was broken, the Superdome was a mess and there was talk of the team moving to San Antonio, TX. The Saints were not a successful team and needed help. Enter Sean Payton. Payton was a well known assistant coach and if there was anyone who could revive New Orleans it was Payton. He needed a quarterback though and he was willing to take a risk on Drew Brees, the quarterback claimed might not play again.

So I have told you the story of how Brees got to New Orleans but you're probably wondering why people view him as the hero of NOLA or why so many people love him. Being told you're too short and that there is a chance you may not play again motivated Brees to become one of the best but remember when Brees became a free agent there weren't many people who were interested in him. When Brees came down to New Orleans to visit the city was still pretty damaged and he realized the city and the team needed a hero and that is why Brees came to New Orleans.

As much as I want to say that Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time being able to see your hometown team rally behind someone like Drew Brees still brings me happiness.

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