The Truth Behind Elite Athletes

The Truth Behind Elite Athletes

Winning isn't everything
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With the Olympics coming to a close, it’s hard for me not to think about how the athletes are feeling now that it’s time to come home. I recently read this article which talks about life for athletes once the games are over and the challenge of building a new identity after athletes have finished competing. Immediately following my return to school after competing in the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games, I vividly remember one of my high school teachers talking to me about my experiences and asking me how I felt about “having peaked before leaving high school.” I know she didn’t mean any harm, but to be honest at the time this comment was kind of a slap in the face. I had just gotten into Dartmouth; I was ready for the next chapter of my life to be just as exciting as the past one.

Prepping for the Olympic or Paralympic games is a long, uphill battle and it’s incredibly easy to become hyper focused. Once the games are finished, it’s understandable that many athletes find it challenging to create an identity for themselves that doesn’t center around their athletic careers. Luckily for me, starting school at Dartmouth just months after competing in my first Paralympics forced me to build my identity around things other than skiing. In some ways this realization was actually a little refreshing. For the first time in my life, my peers knew me because of the classes I was taking, the extracurricular activities I was involved in, and probably because I’m the only legally blind student at Dartmouth if we are being really honest, instead of the skier who always seemed to miss school.

When I decided I wanted to continue competing shortly after coming to Dartmouth it forced me to reestablish myself as an elite athlete while still carefully balancing my life as a full time Dartmouth student. I often feel like I am living two completely separate lives and I find myself having to choose between one or the other. I chose to come to Dartmouth because I felt as though the D-plan, where students can take off from school at various points throughout the year, would be a great opportunity to allow me to commit 100% to skiing over the winter and 100% to school the rest of the time. Every athlete knows that there is always more work to be done, and unfortunately every Ivy League premed student also knows the same. When is it appropriate to spend the extra hour in the gym instead of studying for my organic chemistry final? It is impossible to prioritize one of my two completely separate lives over the other.

Like any athlete, the ultimate goal is to be the best in the world. Every day I try to do everything I possibly can to make that a realistic goal. However, I also know that I cannot ski race forever. Sometimes I find it disappointing that I can’t fully commit to my ski career like most of the athletes I am competing against, and I have to remind myself of the bigger picture. It’s easy to get caught up in that one big moment, and blame yourself for things that might have gone differently. For me, my first Paralympics made me realize that skiing is so much more than the medals I win. In athletics, competition tends to be presented as a single destination. It is very easy to forget that what's truly important are the obstacles that lead up to that destination, and how those experiences play a role in shaping an athlete's character. Skiing has shaped my character in ways that are reflected in all aspects of my life. I have learned to be independent, manage my time well, forgive myself when I fall short of my own expectations, and above all strive to be better than I was yesterday.

It is so important for athletes to enjoy their moment and to take in everything that competing at an elite level has to offer. However, it is arguably more important for athletes to understand that those moments are fleeting. Win or lose, medals are forgotten but acting honorably at times when it would be easy to get caught in the hyper-competitive nature that every world class athlete shares is what really separates respectable athletes from respectable people. Every athlete is a person first. There are core character traits that come along with being an elite athlete and those traits are evident in all aspects of an athlete’s life, even after they are done competing. Character is a culmination of all of someone's life experiences both on and off the playing field. When I compete in the next Paralympics in 2018 I will not be the exact same me who competed in the 2014 Paralympic Games, but I will be the best me that I can be in that given moment. And as for peaking, I’m usually pretty comfortable hurling myself downhill, but for some reason I kind of feel like it’s only up from here.

Cover Image Credit: Finn DeBaun

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If You Wear XL T-Shirts And Shorts, You're The Woman Of My Dreams

Enough with the war on comfort!
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Comfortable can be sexy, simply put.

For some reason there are people complaining out there about the Southern college trend that has been happening the past few years: big t-shirts and shorts, also known as the "srat uniform." There seems to be a clash between the girls who dress "nice" most of the time and girls who dress for comfort. As a guy, I don't see what the big deal is?

For college in the South, there are two reasons to dress up: college football (Roll Tide) and date parties. Any other time, you can find a majority of the female population in shorts and a big t-shirt that makes it look like they're not wearing pants. As a man, I personally don't see anything wrong with this. I love being comfortable as much as the next person, and most guys find the baggy t-shirt and shorts outfit to be cute. There's always a time and place for dresses and rompers.

But for all the haters out there that call these girls in XL t-shirts and shorts lazy, you've got it all wrong.

There are 4 reasons why the girls who don the "srat uniform" have it all figured out.

1. Girls have it rough.

See, it's tough being a girl. I don't know from experience, but I hear it enough and I've seen it enough to know it's true. When girls aren't dealing with f***boys, periods or having to do their hair and makeup routinely, they are being overly criticized by our society. I think society owes girls a break, and that break comes in the comfortable baggy t-shirt and shorts.

2. Southern Not-So-Comfort(able) weather.

Also, for all of the haters, maybe y'all haven't noticed that it's hotter than Satan's balls in the South! Tight, dressy outfits and pants constrict the body and cause you to sweat. I'd rather see a dry girl in a baggy t-shirt than a girl drenched in sweat trying to look cute with her outfit.

3. Perfect doesn't exist.

It's admirable when a girl can unapologetically be herself. A girl in an XL t-shirt and shorts is a girl that is saying "yes, I may have just rolled out of bed and brushed my hair, but I'm here dammit." Social media tells us we all have to be the dolled up, most "perfect" version of ourselves all the time, so it's nice to experience that reality check.

4. Guys think it's cute, regardless.

9 times out of 10, guys in college do not care what you're wearing. Trust me, we aren't doing much better. You could probably put on a garbage bag and we still think you're cute. Any guy that dates a girl that dates a girl only because she dresses nicely all of the time is a shallow man. You're cute, you're comfortable, and that makes for a much better vibe. We all win.

So, in the battle of dressing "nice" and dressing comfortable, I think that the girls who wear an XL t-shirt and shorts chalk up a win in my record book. No, I'm not bashing on girls who have a true sense of style and wear nice clothing... that's a great thing in itself! But, this is college and there are more important things to focus on besides what we're wearing.

Ladies, wear your srat uniform with pride. Some us think it's cute :)

*I want to thank the beautiful ladies at the University of Alabama for inspiring this article.*

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Sorry, The World Cup Just Isn't My Cup Of Tea

I'll say it... I don't like soccer.

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The media has been buzzing non-stop for the past few weeks about few things other than the World Cup. I don't know anything about soccer other than hand usage is a no-go, and I won't pretend to know anything other than that, but I get the feeling there are some people out there who have better poker faces than I when it comes to talking about FIFA.

I've never played soccer, no one in my immediate family has ever played soccer, and few people in my extended family have ever played soccer, let alone been enthusiasts of the game. I'll say it, I don't like soccer. I've been immersed in a football-centric family from the get-go and that will never change, but that has rarely been a good enough reason for people to not become offended when I say that I don't like soccer.

Listen, I get it, soccer has its fanbase just like every other sport, but I have never seen people get heated quite so quickly as they do when I say I don't like their favorite sport. I never understood soccer, I never enjoyed watching it, and I never enjoyed the very few times I played it when my friends or a gym teacher made me participate in my least favorite activity. That being said, I have met few people who are genuinely passionate about soccer all of the time, so why is it so many soccer enthusiasts come out of the woodwork when the World Cup comes around?

Every sport has its fans and its bandwagon fans, those who are all in for the sport all the time, and those who jump ship once the major events close up shop and the season is over, as does every sports team. For example, people who rarely ever watch a football game become suddenly invested in who might win the Lombardi Trophy, or not-so-diehard hockey fans are way more interested in who may win the Stanley Cup in the spring, but not so much in the fall the fall.

But there's something about soccer that draws out fans from the deepest and farthest corners of the world, and the number of viewers from regular season games to the World Cup games grows exponentially. It is incredible to see how people connect over the Cup, the individual games, and their support of their chosen team, even if they are complete strangers, but where do all of these fans come from and where do they go once FIFA is over and soccer goes back into regular season games?

All the amazing statistics and surprises the World Cup has thrown at us aside, I'm sorry but it just isn't for me, and I really don't care what country wins. I know the world is abuzz with the excitement and anticipation that the finals are creating, but I just can't get into it. Like I said, everyone has their thing, their sport, and something that gets them going. I could watch football or a golf tournament all day, but soccer just doesn't do it for me, and I can already hear the roars of protest because I don't care whether Croatia or France wins the final. And, yes, I had to google who would be in the final.

Sorry, but I'm not sorry that I just can't get into the world cup.

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/athletes-audience-ball-bleachers-270085/

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