Why I Chose To Go Green

Why I Chose To Go Green

The story of how I chose my dream college.
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Deciding what college to attend is probably one of the most crucial decisions a high schooler needs to make and it takes a lot of time and energy to officially make that decision.

Ever since I was a little girl, I always saw myself going down south. My family makes trips to South Carolina every summer and exploring schools around that area was my ideal setting. I wanted warm weather and sun and the ability to wear a dress year-round, so the University of South Carolina was the dream school for me.

Sorry for all the love towards South Carolina, but the University of South Carolina was the first school I visited and the campus was unimaginably beautiful. We went to a football game against rival school Clemson and explored the night-life of USC. My mind was completely set on going there and nothing seemed to shake my mind. Throughout my junior year of high school, I checked to see what ACT and SAT scores I had to get to be competitive and worked on the personal statement for months to perfect it. All my focus was set on getting into USC.

One summer night, my family and I were sitting down at dinner having a conversation to see if I wanted to explore any other colleges before I started applying in the fall. I told them I was fine with the list I had which was South Carolina, Penn State, Coastal Carolina, Ohio State, University of Delaware and Bucknell, which was my dad's alma mater.

My mom spoke up and asked, “Would you be interested in checking out my school? I feel like you would really like it.” Her school was Michigan State University which I shut down immediately. I love my mom to death, don't get me wrong, but I had no interest at all in going up and seeing Michigan (hate me all you want, I can promise you by the end of this story I changed my mind).

My whole understanding about college is that I wanted to go to a school that was well-known and none of my family went to so I could have my own experiences to show off. Also, the only time we ever talked about Michigan State was during basketball season when they would get into the March Madness playoff games. So why would I follow in my mom's footsteps?

Now, my mom is hard to persuade, so she bought plane tickets against my will and in May we flew up to East Lansing. At first, we just did a typical school tour where they show you all the most well-known monuments of Michigan State and some classroom sizes. I remember my mom being completely into it as this was her first time back at Michigan State since she graduated, but me, well, I was just observing my surroundings and picturing South Carolina instead.

My mindset never strayed until one moment during the tour I vividly remember. We were walking out of the library and onto the bridge that is above the Red Cedar. As everyone else's eyes were gazing along the river, mine were directly focused at the gigantic Spartan header above the football stadium. I remember picturing what it was like inside the stadium, how the fans cheered and how the team has to run out to the field from their locker rooms.

I remember thinking of the marching band and their halftime performances or how animated a mascot like Sparty the Spartan would be. And at this very moment, I pulled my mom aside and told her that I could possibly see myself at this school. She was stunned at first since my mood about the school was so negative prior to this interaction, but she gave me a big hug and told me to keep that in mind cause she had a little surprise for me after the tour was over.

With the school tour over and the day winding away, my mom and I hopped into our rental car and she asked me, “Are you ready?”

I'm always down for adventure, but what else was there to see besides what the tour gave me? We drove up to Grand River and down M.A.C and she pulled up to a small white house. She told me that this was the house she lived in junior year and all the memories she and her friends had in it, the late-night conversations and early morning wake-up calls for classes.

We continued down and saw all these large houses with Greek letters on them; she pointed out the sorority she was in, Zeta Tau Alpha. We kept driving around and she kept showing me all the places that she would go to and the backstories behind them and I just felt an immediate connection to the place. To have all these amazing stories like my mom had was what I wanted college to be like for me.

The entire time I was picking colleges, I wanted to have a different experience from the rest of my family, but I learned that I can still have my own experience at the same school and I liked the idea that she would have a completely different story about the same place. And so slowly but surely, I began to lose interest in South Carolina and began to dream of a life at Michigan State.

Michigan State was also the first school I heard back from which made me feel like it was especially interested in me attending. I joined the Michigan State GroupMe's to find a roommate and from then on, it was set that I was going to spend four years at the best school ever. Go Green!

Cover Image Credit: Michigan Radio

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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.
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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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I'm Grateful My Dad Was My Coach, But I Wouldn't Want To Do It Again

It's not as great as it may sound.

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Soccer was always a huge part of my life. I started playing when I was 8-years old and I played on both the recreational and travel levels. Unfortunately, my sophomore year presented a scheduling conflict between soccer and theatre. So, at the end of my sophomore year, I made the decision to hang up my cleats and continue on with theatre.

In the almost 10 years on the field, however, I had quite the assortment of coaches. A coach who seemed like he couldn't be less thrilled to be in charge of a hoard of eight-year-olds, one who made us practice outside in the dead of winter and one who's pockets seemed to always be full of keys that would jingle all practice long.

But I've never had a coach quite as memorable as my dad.

Now, my dad has always been a big sports guy. He loves basketball, baseball, football and even golf, but he never really showed an interest in soccer, outside of watching me play. So when one of my old coaches was ejected from a game and it was either find a new coach in five minutes or forfeit, I was shocked to see Gary Hess volunteer. But he did, and from that moment on, my dad was my new coach. I had always wondered what it was like to have a parent as a coach. I had always imagined that it was a dream, you always had someone to practice with, you could help strategize for big games and you'd always be kind of a right-hand man on the field.

Boy was I wrong.

my dad was nothing if not a good coach. He had a good understanding of the game and he let us all try our hand at positions we were curious about but being his daughter presented some tricky situations. On more than one occasion, the short 15-minute ride from the soccer field back to our house after practice became a time for harsh critique and arguments that we often brought home to my mom... sorry mom.

That wasn't all though, I knew as an athlete that you were supposed to leave it all on the field. If your team won, soak it in and move on. If your team had a tough loss, be upset about it for a second and move on, but when your dad is your coach, it's a little harder to do.

After games I would get to hear all of his feedback, some good and some bad and even when his critiques weren't directed at me, they were directed at my teammates and friends and sometimes his harsh words and even his praise of other people was hard to hear. Of course, it didn't help that he stepped into the coaching job for a group of 14-year-olds who weren't always the easiest to deal with, me being probably the most difficult of all just because it's hard to separate your coach from your dad and your player from your daughter.

Despite our issues, we had a good time and as I got older and my dad got more comfortable with coaching and found his style, we were a much better team. We argued less, though every now and again we'd still but heads. I started to take direction more seriously and he started to understand how to communicate effectively with a group of young kids. We didn't ever have a superstar season but at the end of the day, we had a good time.

Good and bad, I wouldn't trade the years I spent playing soccer with my dad as the coach for anything. But if it came down to it again now I think I'd have to say thanks but no thanks. With that said though, he made me a better player and a better person so, thanks, dad.

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