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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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.
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This piece is intended to be a satire of an experience at Coachella.

With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Harasta

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8 Things I Have Learned During My Freshman Year Of College

♫ Everything is not what it seems... ♫
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As the end of my freshman year quickly approaches, I can't imagine all that's happened this past year. I've semi-lived on my own for eight months, joined a sorority, and somehow became a partial adult all in the matter in that short time.

Here are eight important things I've learned during this past school year!

1. College students do not care, like at all.

You could be doing the macarena while on rollerblades screaming, and most people would treat it like a normal activity.

2. Skipping class is a lot easier than it seems.

*Me every time I walk into my 8 A.M. at 7:59 A.M.

3. A 4.0 GPA is attainable, but you'll have a limited social life.

Classes get harder as you get older, and sometimes a B is all you can manage without going insane.

4. Sometimes knowing absolutely no one is the most comforting thing in the world.

You can be whoever you want and do whatever you want, and it's the nicest feeling sometimes.

5. If you don't know what you value, your life will be 10 times easier.

Don't be friends with people who make you question their beliefs or make you go back on what you believe in.

6. Do things for yourself every once in a while, even if it's only to keep your sanity.

Blow off that one homework assignment so you can go to bed before 2 A.M. Watch another episode, even though you have class in 45 minutes. Just be careful about how often you do it!

7. Friends are important in a way that family will never be.

When you're sick, rundown, over classes, and your family lives 2 hours away, your friends are the ones who got you.

8. Dogs make everything better.

Literally everything!

Cover Image Credit: Taylor Adams

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