The Other Colorado

The Other Colorado

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Colorado. Known for the beautiful Rocky Mountains, the famous ‘Mile High City’, and of course, recreational marijuana. A culture composed of Bronco’s games and supporting the Rockies baseball team. Although we aren’t all home-state fans, we can all agree on the amount of respect shown throughout our gorgeous state. The place where skiing, camping and hiking is a frequent vacation pinpoint. To outsiders, this is all that Colorado has to offer. However, I am from a part of Colorado that only few can attest from; I am from the "Other Colorado."

I am from the flattest grounds of Colorado, where the faintest silhouette of the mountains can be seen. I live where livestock outnumbers the population of the people, where the air is not constricted by pollution or smog, but is dense, smooth, and clean. At night, a slight glow from cities more than two hours away can be seen. Where the stars seem so bright, crisp, and clear, as if you were in a movie.

I am from communities that come together as a family; where you can drive an hour and still have a handful of friends to rely on. Where sports not only bring the area together but can separate them in a heartbeat. They say it takes a tribe to raise a child; in this part of Colorado, this statement is a lifestyle. When bad comes to worse, our communities bind together to get the family the help they need. I am from the area that car pools hours just to get to a Walmart or mall. Where a trip to Denver is almost like a thrill when growing up.

I am from a collection of towns with a population 1,000 or less. Where you get the news faster at the local gas station gossip than you do from the area news release. Where your class was more like your family than your classmates. Where knowing the exact color, make, and model of all your friend’s cars is normal. I am from the area of Colorado that still recites the Pledge in school, and before large events, where ‘under God’ is not a question, but a must.

I am from tumble weeds, dirt roads, and country music. Where fun is categorized as summer cattle branding, cruising up and down Main Street, or late night Walmart trips. I am from hard work and dedication; brought up by the strings of my mother’s apron. Where ‘yes ma’am' and 'yes sir’ is still common.

I am from the part of Colorado that is desolate and open. Where a small amount of excitement is felt when we see our town or county on the weather map. I am from a place where tornadoes and winds are strong enough to take roofs and homes. Where our eyes are trained to see deer and antelope in the tallest of brush.

I am from ‘the other Colorado’. The Colorado not portrayed on postcards or shown through magazines. The parts of Colorado that, surprisingly, are still unknown to many Colorado-natives. The area of Colorado that has to associate to larger cities just to get an idea of where we actually are; where we use hours and miles as descriptions, instead of the legitimate name of our city.

Colorado. A mixing bowl of traits. Where the weather is nearly uncertain that we could have snow on Monday, and a tornado on Tuesday. A saying all Coloradans can relate to is “if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour and it will change.” In general, Colorado is a beautiful state filled with unique and incredible people. Diverse and welcoming, Colorado will always be my state, but I will always identify as 'the other Colorado’.
Cover Image Credit: Ty Lin Williams

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From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: Identity Theft

For a lot of athletes, we tend to feel like the sports we play define us. Learn more about the journey in Part two of the "From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P." series.

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So you're done playing... now what?

When you abruptly stop playing the sport you've played your whole life, something happens. I like to call this, Identity Theft.

This is something that many athletes, including myself, have experienced. Instead of waking up for conditioning at 6 am, you're waking up 15 minutes before class to get ready. You're no longer looking forward to or dreading practice (me) in the evening. Maybe you find that you're no longer "important" on campus. People aren't looking up to you anymore, and maybe you feel like you've just become a number. Some portion of your self-esteem has disappeared, you don't know where you belong anymore, and all of a sudden it's more difficult to make friends.

For some people, being an athlete is their main characteristic about themselves. Maybe even a personality trait, some may argue. Once you stop doing something you used to do everyday, a self-discovery journey is necessary. It's a journey that's for sure, and not a short one.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

You may struggle to figure out who you are, all over again. It's comparable to recreating yourself. Some retired athletes will continue to thrive in their sport, even if they aren't playing for their school anymore. Some, like me, will go through the days, weeks, and months, not knowing what to do with themselves, or who they even are anymore (I didn't lift a weight or break a sweat for 6 months straight).

Before you know it, you begin to question yourself.

What am I good at? What am I passionate about now? Am I good at anything besides basketball?

These are the questions I asked myself every single day. Tearing my self-confidence down piece by piece because I didn't have the answers. I haven't always been the most social person, that being said, the friends I made were through sports. Teammates, opponents, fans- these were all friends I didn't need to work for. Not only that, I all of a sudden had all of this free time and had no idea what to do with it. Yeah, I could do homework, but that got boring after a while.

So what happens next? For me, it was depression.

Something that once defined you is no longer a part of your life anymore. The one thing that people thought about when they heard your name, is now nonexistent. The best way to describe life after being an athlete in my opinion is Identity Theft, because it almost feels like you've been robbed of a vital quality of yourself. And what's funny is I never thought it would be this way for me, because I never let basketball define me, yet there I was.

I'm here to say this:

Pick yourself up and remember who you are. Being great at that sport you once played was just one of the qualities of the stellar human being you are. You are more than your sport. You do have a purpose and a place in this world, even if you don't know it yet. This journey will be scary, but you'll discover new things about yourself that you didn't even know existed.

Since completing this self-discovery journey, I have learned that I am not as introverted as I thought I was, or at least used to be. I like art, music, and even writing. Never in a million years did I think I'd be writing articles that would be shown to the public. Helping people and learning about people is something I am now passionate about. I look back at my old self and sometimes can't recognize her because things are so different now, but I am grateful for those chapters in my life because they helped mold the person I am today.

I've learned the best life lessons from playing sports my whole life, and that is what should be taken from that whole experience. Very rarely do you end up playing your sport forever- everyone can't be a professional athlete.

Identity theft is a real issue that occurs in retired athletes. It is important that you, the athlete, understand what is going on, as well as the people around you.

This isn't the end of your life, it's truly just the beginning.

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