Being On A Team Changes You For The Better

Being On A Team Changes You For The Better

Growing up, being a part of a team was more than just something that kept me busy

Being on a team means more than doing what you love.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to be a part of a team starting at a young age. Although I probably didn't realize it at the time, being on a youth soccer team at the age of four was just the beginning of discovering what the role of a "teammate" really meant. Through elementary school, I played soccer competitively, danced, and began cheerleading as well. At the time, I looked at these after-school activities as something that took my mind off school work, and of course that was fun for me. As I began to mature, I realized that not only was I doing something that I loved, but I was also with people who shared the passion with me.

Once high school came along, it didn't take long for me to adapt to the change of scenery. Joining a Varsity cheerleading team as a freshman seemed terrifying and I was not sure what I would be getting myself into. I did not realize the amazing friendships that would be made along the way.

Until high school, I attended a small Catholic elementary school. When I moved on to a public high school, I was introduced to different cultures, personalities, attitudes, etc. and meeting new people who had different interests than me outside of cheerleading was an eye-opener. It made me realize that being part of a team brings so many different types of people together to do what they love. Going into high school, I never would have expected to be friends with people who has such different interests as me.

This aspect influenced me not only in the gym but in the classroom as well. Because I came from such a small middle school, I was nervous to meet new people. Being a part of a team brought me out of my shell and helped me become more outgoing, especially when meeting the friends of my teammates I didn't share the love of cheerleading with.

So, being a part of this team didn't just introduce me to the girls who I was on a team with.

On top of meeting people with various interests, being on a team also taught me many things about myself. Being on a competitive cheerleading team, you tend to focus more on your team as a whole, rather than one at a time or just yourself for that matter. As our team got stronger, I noticed that when members of the team began to succeed or master new skills, it brought a sense of joy not only to them, but to myself as well. There was such a sense of accomplishment as a team when just one member or one group would succeed. This is something that could be taken out off the mat and brought into everyday life, whether it be in the classroom, at home, or the work place.

These aspects of being on a team taught me a lot about everyday life. Being on a team, especially in high school is important because it gives you a sense of diversity. The things that I learned from those on my team shaped me into the outgoing, loving person that I am today. Being a part of a team also caused me to aspire to work well with others and be a constant advocate of positivity, something that I believe is needed in everyday life. There will always be hard times, but with a strong support base, there will always be success in the end.

Without being a part of a team, I would not have realized these things. I am forever grateful for my teammates who helped shape who I am today.

Cover Image Credit: Jillian Recko

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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.

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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Folsom Street Fair | Thomas Hawk | Flickr

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