On October 29th, 2016, my career as a collegiate athlete came to an end. When the final whistle blew at my senior game, I was faced with the harsh reality that I would never again play a sport at this level again. While I was upset that my career was over, I am forever grateful for the many experiences I had and the lessons I learned while being a collegiate athlete.
I played Division II soccer at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire for four years. I verbally committed to play on the team in August before my senior year of high school. While I was extremely eager to begin my career as a collegiate athlete, I could not help but be overwhelmed with nerves. I knew that to be ready for preseason, I would have to work and train like never before.
During the spring of my senior year of high school, I played on a club soccer team to keep myself in shape. However, once summer arrived, it was time to begin training as a collegiate athlete. To prepare, I participated in a local training program for high school and collegiate athletes that involved rigorous lifting and conditioning five days a week. Not only did the program allow me to push myself to new limits physically, but it also helped me create friendships with other incoming collegiate athletes who were just as nervous as I was. In addition to the program, I participated in a summer league two nights a week, practiced on my own, and made sure I was keeping up with the workouts in my summer packet that was given to me by my coach. As a result of my hard work during the summer, I was ready for preseason, and I successfully passed my fitness tests.
Preparing to play a sport at the collegiate level requires determination and hard work, yet becoming a member of a team at a university and playing for a college coach is both an honor and a privilege. The team’s actions and overall performance during games are not only a reflection of the individual players but also of the coach and the school. My coach carried on those ideals to the structure of the team and urged us to compete hard, but also to possess dignity and respect. Therefore, I learned that to be a successful athlete, the values of the team was to be placed ahead of my own. All universities and coaches have their principles, and it is the job of the athlete to comply with those values during practice and competition.
Competing at the collegiate level is no easy task; it involves many long travel days, late nights completing homework, and often yields a difficulty in balancing the many aspects of life as a college student. While there are obstacles that athletes face, the experience of competing and being a member of a team at such a level is unique and creates lifelong friendships and memories. I would encourage anyone who is even considering continuing his or her career after high school to stick with it. The recruiting process can often be frustrating and challenging, but with determination, one can eventually find a team that they will be able to call home for four years. Playing any sport at the collegiate level is worth the hard work; being a member of the soccer team at Saint Anselm for four years shaped not only the athlete that I am, but also the person I have become, and I am forever thankful to have had such an outstanding opportunity.
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Image courtesy of Saint Anselm Hawks