This past summer I published an article documenting my process that concluded with the decision not to continue playing volleyball in college. Almost a month into my freshman year, I can say I made the right choice.
The transition from driving around with friends, watching Netflix for hours, getting food at midnight and everything those lazy summer days held, to dorm living, being surrounded by new people and getting slammed with projects was an eye-opening one. It was definitely a wake up call, but once I got into a schedule with things, I’ve been able to balance my time and still include some sleep. I’ve made some great friends, I love my teachers and am really able to immerse myself in my classes. Still I wonder, what would be different if I decided to play volleyball?
On the walk to my 8 AM, I catch myself staring through the glass windows of the gym and listening to the squeak of shoes on the freshly waxed floor. The familiar bouncing of a volleyball right before the serve and the echoes of “mine” are still kept in the back of my head. I’ll admit, I do miss the sport. I think this would go for any athlete who’s been so dedicated to something for most of their life.
There’s a phase where you have to convince yourself how sure you are about stopping your sport- it becomes almost too easy. Reading my previous article, I can tell I was in that phase. I talked about how I didn’t “genuinely enjoy the sport anymore” and “willingly let it drift away”. It made me feel better to physically type these words out at the time, to reassure myself this was what I wanted, even if it wasn’t completely true.
As I said, was right with my decision. I personally don’t think I’d be able to keep up with all the projects and work I'm getting, while constantly traveling and waking up for early practices. I’m finding myself in a good place, with just enough time to check everything off my to-do list and also have time on the social side.
A perfect opportunity came around- the club volleyball team. I made the team after two days of tryouts and was really excited to lace my shoes and pull up my kneepads again. It felt like I never even took a break, I got right back into the sport I knew and loved. This was a great way to meet people and other girls just like me. Girls who didn’t want the stress of being on the varsity team, but still wanted to keep up with the game. We practice 2 nights a week and it’s not anything like the conditioning practices that left me drenched in sweat that I was used to.
In the other article, I mentioned wanting to play volleyball without the stress of winning, being talented or under pressure, and club is the perfect resolution to those concerns. Of course our team still has that competitive component, but it's dialed down a notch.
If you’re going through the same thing I was, I’m not saying to make the same decision as I did. Everyone has different situations and this ended up being the best thing I could do for myself! Just take into account that you’re not wiping the sport out of your life forever. Most colleges offer club and intramural teams where you can have fun doing what you love at a more chill level. Don’t be worried that you’re going to let Dad, Mom or Coach Brian down. The people close to you want only to see you succeed. They’ll understand the choice you make, and if it doesn’t seem so at first, give it time. In that time, get some good grades, focus on school, meet new people and form strong relationships with your teachers.
Don't skip over the part where you weigh out the pros and cons of your situation. It'll be stressful and complicated, but you have to start moving in one direction or the other at some point. Sometimes you have to go through that to get back on track. In the end, everything will work out, and if not, go for the team next season, you have all your college years ahead of you.
I’ve been asked if I plan on trying out for the varsity team next year, and the answer is no. I couldn’t be happier with where I am now. I didn’t lose my desire and love for the sport like I claimed a while ago, it just slipped away for a moment. If it’s meant to be, it’ll weave it’s way back into your life. On another note, I'm really proud seeing all my old teammates go on with their volleyball careers in college, I love to see their achievements and how happy they are. I can take a few lessons from this, but the biggest one is- whatever the standards, when you put your happiness first, life is better.