To The Youth Athlete I Was, And The Adult Athlete I'll Never Be

To The Youth Athlete I Was, And The Adult Athlete I'll Never Be

It's amazing how much your passion grows when fulfilling it is no longer an option.
21763
views

It’s hard for people that have never fallen in love with a sport to understand the loss when it comes time to find new passions. But everyone can understand the pain of losing something they adore and the never-ending need to explore the “what ifs” and the “I would haves.” As a previous youth, high school and collegiate athlete, it hasn’t been an easy transition into a life without a team, a coach, a practice schedule, and pregame jitters. So, I’ve decided to write a letter to my past and the future I never had to help both myself in coping and athletes or passionates everywhere who are in need of a little inspiration.

To My 14-year-old Self,

If only you knew the way things would play out. Trust me, you wouldn’t be dreading practice or arguing with your dad about how a high school social life is more important than a sport. You’d be working your butt off knowing that the competitive edge and team environment would once be gone without your say or acknowledgment. You should be enjoying practice instead of wishing you could go hang out at Starbucks or spending the evening at the movies.

Looking back on it in a few years, some of those practices will be the best times of your life. Love your teammates: cherish their friendship and their talents. They are your rocks and the only friends who will understand the demand of the sport and the pressure of getting a scholarship. There will come a day when no matter how badly you want to, no matter how hard you work, no matter how many braces you wear, you won’t be able to play anymore. And trust me, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt very badly.

You’re going to want to visit every doctor in the country to reverse the damage that has been done, but it’s just not possible. Every night, you will go to bed wishing you still had your talents and a coach that appreciated them. You’re going to miss the soreness after a long tournament weekend, and you’re going to ache to feel the sensation of pride when your team wins an important game.

The field is a sanctuary—you’ll understand that once life actually begins to get stressful. You’ll need your safe zone and a scapegoat but you won’t have one. I wish you would put more time into one-on-one training and focus more heavily being a better player than you were yesterday. More than anything, I want you to cherish it more. I want you to love it more than anything else in the world. Make smart decisions. When it comes time to rehab, don’t skip it or make excuses for slacking off. I can promise you that one day you will regret every moment you took this sport and the talents you were given for granted. There’s a huge chance that if you work to the best of your abilities, you won’t have to write this letter in six years.

To the Athlete I Could Have Been,

For lack of a better phrase, I hate you. I’m jealous, angry and heartbroken that I’m not in your position. You have no idea how lucky you are to have your health and the ability to do what you love. Do you appreciate it? Do you work every single day to reach your full potential? I sure do hope so. Life isn’t always so fair. It’s a rollercoaster of unexpected turns and flips. You never know what could happen or how quickly it all could be taken away.

Be proactive. Take the necessary precautions to preserve your body. I hope you play every single day like it could be your last time on the field. I hope every sprint is faster than your last, every pass is more accurate than your previous and every decision is for the greater interest of your team. When you have the chance to go on an extra run or do an extra set of squats, do them. It’s amazing how much you want to work out and exert energy the second that you are no longer able to without pain or injuries. Most importantly, I hope you never lose the passion you have for the sport.

Today, without the ability to play, my passion is stronger than ever. I think once you mature and understand the blessing of being an athlete and having something like that to believe in and work for, the love for the game is at its peak. There’s nothing worse than being incapable of channeling that love and adoration for something I once didn’t appreciate. That’s what kills me most.

I wish more than anything in this world that I could be you. I’d give up all the free time, the hours of sleep and the social life for just one more minute on the field. Don’t give up on it. Work for as long as you can. Because once that chapter of your life is gone, there’s no turning back the pages.

Sincerely,

Gina

Your future and present self with four ACL surgeries, one meniscus surgery and 0 more days of playing the beautiful game.

Cover Image Credit: Lifetouch

Popular Right Now

I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
19893
views

It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

It's Been A Year And I Still Miss It

The memories with my teammates and coaches are remembered everyday.

1372
views

Never thought I'd say it but here I am. I am happy to say I am proud to be where I am today but the thoughts of never playing a sport again linger in my mind. Those emotions of anticipation and excitement when it comes to playing a sport are long gone. Sad to say I will never have butterflies before running a race, floor burns all over my knees and sweat mixed with softball dirt all over me.

The little aspects that I took for granted are what I remember the most. I am who I am today because of my coaches and teammates. Each and every sport came with a support system to fall back on and friendships that would last a lifetime. My coaches and teammates taught me life long skills that I will carry with me forever. They taught me the true meaning of dedication, teamwork, perseverance and respect. Yes, I love the game but the connections and memories I have built have impacted me. Especially, the times I have created with my teammates and coaches on the bus rides, practices and game days.

Those are the moments I will never get back. I will never forget the times my volleyball teammates and I would run over to Perkins after a win. We would eat junkie, greasy food till our tummies were full but during those moments we were all owning the moment while being young and careless. Even during track season my teammates and I found time to have fun while running rigorous workouts. I will never forget the mid-dance parties during track meets to keep our mind off of the stress of performing to our best ability. Softball season always seemed to be on the road, which meant plenty of bus rides with my teammates. Those hours of traveling were the best from the never have I ever games to singing along to great hits.

I will never get the chance again to compete in front of a crowd. The cheers and the roars of the fans is such a surreal feeling. Running on the blue oval was something I will never forget. As much as I hated the queasy, uneasy feelings before running, I would go back for it one more time. Stepping foot on the blue oval meant a great athlete once took those same steps I did. The moment my teammates, coaches and I clinched the win to go to State for the first time in school history was unbelievable. It was an accomplishment for us seniors, for our coaches, for our families and fans, for our school and for the past softball players. We did something that was never done before in school history and all I can say is I'm proud to have done it with the group of girls that I did.

Getting to state and playing with the best of the best is remarkable but what seemed to be even better was getting a victory against a city rival. Everyone came out for those games from grandparents to students to alumni. Our best performances were amongst us when competing against city rivals. Particularly, through volleyball, my teammates and I seemed to be hungrier for a win whenever it was a city rival. I guess, the best moments happened when we beat a cross-town rival. You could say we got bragging rights for the year.

To all the athletes out there competing in their last game, last match or last race, relish in those last seconds because before you know it you will never pick up a ball again, race in a relay or dance after a victory.

Related Content

Facebook Comments