You fall in love with a sport at a young age and then next thing you know, you are in high school committing 20+ hours a week in training and competitions. You never thought the sport you fell in love with could take up so much of your life. You also had no idea how much this sport would mean to you. You had no idea how much joy it would bring you and the people that would come with it. You finally realize you couldn’t imagine living without your sport. You are so thankful for the life skills and friendships that have been built over all those years. Just imagine if you knew all that was to come in the future before you were even on a sports team.
Ready, Set, Get Organized
All athletes know that balancing schoolwork and your practices or games can be a sport of its own. As your sport is picking up through the years, so is your schoolwork. It can get complicated fast. But what you don’t realize is that you’ve been preparing yourself this whole time to handle an increase in work and hours devoted to your sport. In the blink of an eye you have learned the concept of time management better than the average student. You learn to come home after a full school day, get all of your homework done, go work hard at practice, and maybe even study more once you get home. Your focus and organization are essential to keeping this harmony between school and athletics. This is one of the many life skills you are lucky enough to say your sport has taught you. Not only are you driven on the field, but you have an equal drive in the classroom to achieve greatness.
Above All Challenge Yourself
Every single day you step onto the field or into the weight room your work ethic will be challenged. As sports get more competitive, so do you. This could be something you don’t even realize is happening. Your work ethic expands from what it once was at a young age as you get stronger and grow as an athlete. Everyday you set the bar higher and higher for how hard you can work. You achieve goals you never thought you would and set personal bests that blow yourself away. The challenge will never end as long as you keep pushing yourself to greatness. There is no limit to the challenge, as there is no limit to the success that accompanies your hard work. The grind will challenge you, but you will learn to beat it. Every challenge that comes at you in sports, school, or life you will be able to attack it. Accepting defeat will never be something in your nature again.
Dial Up Your Mental Toughness
Every athlete faces the day they don’t want to practice, their body feels more rundown than ever, and they just need a break. On days like these, your mental toughness is built up and up and up. You learn to block out the negativity, the feeling of pain in all of your muscles, and that voice in your head saying, “I can’t keep going.” You learn to take it one set or sprint at a time until you have completed the workout. It is guaranteed that your mental toughness is upped with every workout whether you are feeling your best or your worst. You build up this tough skin that will help you get through sports, but also life. As you become the person that doesn’t quit, your mental toughness will not quit on you. The mental toughness that has come with the years of athletics will never allow you to give up.
Your Strength Will Amaze You
Through your years of training you will feel yourself, get stronger, but sometimes forget how far you have come as an athlete. At one point you will realize how strong you actually are, which will be far stronger than you ever thought you could be. You have exceeded the goals you have set in the weight room by a great deal. Your muscle mass is much more than what it used to be. Exercises or lifts you struggled with in the past will now come easy to you. The weight you are putting up is double than in the past. You have built yourself up to an incredibly strong athlete. It is great for athletes to take a step back and pat themselves on the back for their improvements. Be proud of all that you have accomplished, especially for that little kid who fell in love with the sport in the beginning. Use that feeling to continue to strengthen you. You can have all the strength in the world, but for strength to matter you need to have that same love for the sport.
A Bond Stronger Than the Game
The single best part about being on a team is the friends you make that turn into an extended part of your family. As an athlete in season, you probably spend more time with your teammates and coaches than you do with your family. This bond is unparalleled to any other type of friendship. You have gotten through the hard practices, injuries, the best wins, and toughest losses. Above all, you have always been there to pick each other back up. You see each other day in and day out work as hard as you can to be the best you can be. And if they see you slacking, they will say it right to your face. After all, it is way more than just a game – you all love the same sport. There is no bond like that with your teammates. Win or lose you are always a team, even for the years after your sport has ended. When it is your last game you won’t remember all the of the championship wins or the games you lost, you will remember the laughter you shared at that one practice. That is what you will carry in your heart when you look back on all the years spent with your teammates. You will smile to yourself and feel beyond blessed to have made such special memories with your best friends.
Sports can teach us more life lessons than we ever thought possible. The lessons learned from years of being on a team cannot be taught or replicated anywhere else. Sports unite us through the sweat, the blood, the tears, and the smiles. Being on a team brings out the best in us. Sports teach use how to persevere, work hard, and how to properly win or lose. We love sports because of the people they shape us into. We thank sports for all that they have done for us and could not imagine life without them.
About the Author: Sarah Scelsa
Sarah Scelsa is an intern with Parisi Speed School. She is a current sophomore at Fairfield University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Communication. Since a young age, Sarah was always playing sports whether it was soccer, softball, or swimming. Her love for sports grew over the years, specifically for swimming. She swam for her club team, Lakeland Hills YMCA, for 9 years and was the captain of her high school team senior year when the team became State Champions for the third year in a row.
After graduating from Mountain Lakes High School, Sarah went on to swim at the Division I level for Fairfield University. Her team has won the MAAC Championship three years in a row now. Sarah credits her successes in the pool and the classroom to the value she has put on hard work her whole life. She is so thankful for all of the opportunities athletics have presented to her and the joy it has brought her over the years.