Without The Game

Without The Game

For every senior collegiate athlete whose season is about to end or has already ended, this one's for you.
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Silence is usually described as a feeling of stillness; a state of peace, a split-second of quiet, a season of serenity. It’s harmonious and soothing and usually portrayed by unruffled waters or someone sitting in tranquility. This is what silence looks and feels like to a lot of us most of the time. We long for a moment of silence in this loud and crazy world. We crave it and when it finally comes, we close our eyes and hang on tight to it, for it is ever-fleeting.

But, what if this isn’t what silence always looks like? What if there was a silence that hung around for a little while? A silence that is deafening, unwanted, and conflicted. A silence that looks more like someone struggling to stay afloat in rough waters rather than someone sitting peacefully near unruffled ones. What if silence looked like this instead? What if silence felt like this instead? What if I told you that this type of silence actually exists? Would you believe me?

Almost all elite-level athletes—college, semi-pro, or pro—experience this kind of silence. There comes a time, whether due to injury, retirement, or ineligibility, where the silence sets in. No more cheers of the crowd chanting. No more recognition for record-breaking performances.

No more noise, clamor, or commotion. Just silence -- echoes of what used to be.

Some might say that this is too drastic and dramatic; that sports are just a silly game us athletes play and that we need to get over it. But what those people might not understand is that losing the game is like losing a part of ourselves. We’ve spent most of our lives dedicated to our sport—years preparing, conditioning, competing. We’ve not only invested ourselves physically, but mentally and emotionally as well -- becoming consumed with the wins and losses, the highs and lows. It defines us in a way. Gives us purpose. Gives us an identity. It becomes our world and we become wrapped up in it. So that is why, when it’s all said and done, when the final buzzer buzzes and the last whistle blows, it’s a big loss -- probably the biggest loss in all of our athletic careers.

At this moment, we’re left to undergo some serious life re-evaluation; left asking who are we? What do we do now?

As the collegiate fall season nears an end, the first wave of senior student-athletes begins to face these questions. Less than 2 percent of collegiate athletes will go on to play pro, leaving 98 percent subject to the silence soon. Sure, there are adult leagues and beer leagues we can go on to join, but it won’t be anything like the game we played in high school or college. We’re competitors; we love the thrill of a rivalry, the pressure of a playoff game, the grind of going to practice every day, the feeling of being victorious, the locker room celebrations, the long bus rides. We live for that. And while recreational sports may still have all of that, it won’t ever have quite the same feel as it once did.

This transition is something that we rarely talk about. But, I say, if every athlete is bound to go through it at some point, why not bring it to the forefront and acknowledge it? Through sports, we have been lucky enough to create more friendships and memories than most people dream of. We have grown as people and learned more lessons from athletics than school could ever teach us. So, when that moment comes, when the clock strikes 0:00, and it’s all said and done, while inevitable sadness will strike, I’d like to offer a little bit of advice.

Take it all in. Take a look into the stands to see your family and friends who have been there to support you every step of the way – remember to be thankful. Take a look at your teammates to the left and to the right of you, and think about how these people, who have become your family, have shaped your life – remember to never let these relationships go. Take a look at playing stage, whatever it may be, one last time and replay all of the great victories and celebrations – remember to cherish those feelings of triumph. Take time to reflect on all the years you’ve played – remember to never take those years and opportunities for granted.

Finally, no matter how deafening it may be, take the time to listen to the silence, because while our sport has certainly molded us and inarguably impacted our lives, it is in no way definitive of who we are. Remember that, and more importantly, believe that. Believe that you are just as important and just as valuable to the world as you were when you played your sport. Because if there's one thing I know for sure it's that being a good person is what truly matters in this life. Who you are without the game is what matters and how good of a person you are doesn't change just because your playing days are over.

The silence will only begin to fade, once you believe that.

Cover Image Credit: Brian Schneider

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Christian Boys Vs. Godly Men

It is time to stop settling for the lesser of the two.
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Ladies, there is a huge difference between a Christian boy and a Godly man; therefore, it is time to stop settling for the lesser of the two.

So many times I hear girls saying:

“Well, he’s a Christian.”

“He goes to church with me.”

“He listens to Christian music.”

“He went to church camp.”

“He has a favorite bible verse.”

SEE ALSO: What An Attractive Man Looks Like

Well, all of those things are just peachy and there is nothing wrong with doing those things. I mean, they’re all good things to do. But how is his personal relationship with God? How is his prayer life? Does he talk about his relationship with God, with you? Is he truly a follower of the one true God in all aspects of his life? These are some of the characteristics you should be looking for that makes a Godly man.

Ladies, a man will love you great when he loves God greater.

A Godly man will pursue an honest relationship with you. He will be clear of his intentions. A Godly man will worship, pray and passionately praise God with you. Whereas, a Christian boy might open the door for you, a Godly man will open his bible and explore God’s word with you so that you both may grow spiritually, together. While a Christian boy may put on an outward show, a Godly man will live out the love of Jesus daily.

So ladies, are you catching on to this ongoing trend? A Godly man does more because you deserve more.

A Godly man will be a leader. Trust me, I know that in today’s society Godly men are few and far between while Christian boys come in plenty. But you deserve a man who is after God’s heart not just a boy who goes to church. And I know that this Christian boy may seem great and have some really stellar qualities at the time but money and looks fade, whereas, an ongoing love for our savior will not.

The greatest thing a man can do for a woman is to lead her closer to God than himself. (Yes, yes, yes).

SEE ALSO: As Christians, Life Isn't Supposed To Be Hard

So I beg of you, do not settle. Do not settle just because you’re tired of being single, it’s convenient or because you want the relationship your friend has. Single does not equal available and a relationship status does not define you. God uses your season of singleness to prepare you for what is to come. And if you’re dating a Christian boy, he needs to step it up or you need to move on. Wait for a Godly man who is ready to lead you. God’s timing is always better, always. No matter the circumstance. So, do not rush God. (I mean, He is, after all, pretty good at His job). Therefore, turn your full focus to Him and He will direct your path.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Cover Image Credit: Christina Sharp

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My Lake Elsinore Poppy Field Experience

This past weekend I had the chance to visit the super bloom of golden poppies, and they were quite breathtaking.

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Hill after hill, California's golden flower blanketed soft sloped grassy tops that seemed to continue what felt like forever, far into the valley. The hills looked as if they were painted a bright Garibaldi orange, or coated with layers and layers of Cheetos. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and the almost glowing-orange flowers swayed back and forth in the breeze. I felt like I was in a story book or a scene from the Sound of Music. The rare infamous poppy field explosion was right in front of my eyes, and it was absolutely breathtaking.

I had gone to see the flower fields because of how much I adore flowers, and have never experienced a whole field or valley of them like this before. I wanted to be able to respectfully walk alongside the flowers, and see their blinding beauty with my very own eyes, which I did. However, MANY people at Walker Canyon, a.k.a social media influencers and Instagram addicts, were quite noticeably there just to have photo shoots and stare at their phones, checking the lighting and if they're amethyst was glimmering in the sunlight.

As wonderful, beautiful, and bright as the poppies were, and as much as I enjoyed feeling their soft silky petals, and sitting and walking beside them, taking a few photos here and there, I was annoyed with how many people were there just to strike a pose for their social media.

This magical and very RARE moment of a poppy bloom should not have people looking down at their phones, and asking their friends which pose looks better. Smell the flowers, open your eyes look up at the sky, and blind yourselves with the beauty of this natural wonder. Go outside, and actually live a little.

Despite the many people who were there just to get the photos for the likes and followers on Instagram, I am so fortunate and grateful to have had the chance to see these golden flowery fields. If you have the chance to go, look into traffic conditions, and bring a hat and lots of water! It sure was warm on that walk, so always a good idea to come prepared. I also noticed some people picking the flowers and putting them in their hair. As pretty and cute as that may look for your photo, don't do that. Please respect all spaces, and let the precious elements of life be.

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