If there is anything about high school that I miss, it is being an athlete. From four years old, I was always playing a sport, and as I grew up, I wanted nothing more than to play at the next level. But things changed. My interests changed. My dreams changed. And when I walked off the court for the final time, I knew that was it. When I unlaced my basketball shoes for the last time, I knew that an era was ending.
At the time, I was okay with that. I was going to college and taking that next step in life. Now that I am here, right in the middle of “the next big step”, I would give anything to be an athlete again. I would gladly wake up in the wee hours of the morning to go to 6 A.M practices, which is something that I thought I would never say in my entire life. But the truth is, I would do it, I would run sprints until I threw up and dive for the line because I miss it more than anything.
Everyone says that you have the time of your life while you’re in college, and I’m sure that that is true. I know now, though, that I was having the time of my life in high school because I was an athlete, and I didn’t even know it. To me, being an athlete meant more than being in shape and being able to eat whatever I wanted, though that was really nice. It meant I had strength that other people didn’t. I took pride in the fact that when other people were just waking up, my teammates and I had been sweating our butts off for an hour and were on the brink of death. I took pride in walking onto the court with my number on my back with the girls I loved most.
I miss being an athlete because it allowed me to be a part of something bigger than myself. It allowed me to be a part of a team, and I have yet to find something as great as the feeling you have when you are a part of something so amazing. Athletics gave me my best friends. It gave me the people that had my back on and off the court. It gave me memories with each and every one of those girls that I will never forget. Together, we saw victories and we saw defeat. We watched each other rise, and when one of us fell, everyone was there to pick her up again. The best thing about these relationships was that it didn’t matter whether I fell on the court or in life, someone was there to help me up every single time.
Being an athlete not only kept my body in shape, but it was constantly working my mind also. To be an athlete, you have to learn to be driven. You have to stay motivated, and that is not always easy. Through athletics, I learned so much about myself. I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were. I learned how to lead, and that the best way to lead is by actions. I learned how to push myself, physically and mentally, so that I could be better in the end. Playing sports taught me a lot about life and how to become the person I want to be.
Athletics shaped me into the woman I have become, and without all the practices, the sweat, the tears, the long nights and early mornings with my team and the moments where I had to rely on sheer mental strength to make it through, I don’t know if I would be the girl that I am today. I would go back because, though I sometimes hated it then, I now miss every aspect of the busy life I had as an athlete. I miss locker room talks and bus rides. I miss my teammates and my jersey. I miss my coaches. I miss being an athlete because it was part of who I was and who I still am.