Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Art of the Student Athlete

My athletic background is pretty extensive. I've been doing sports year round since I was four years old. I was born into a track family, my sisters did it and my parents were very involved with it, it was just assumed that like them I would spend my spring and summers running track and play basketball in the winter. I'm a rebel. I couldn't just do what my sisters did, that would be too easy, I had to try everything and come to my own conclusions and opinions because that's just how I am. I'm a generally athletic person, sports just come naturally to me. I've been running track for 13 years, danced (jazz, tap, and pointe ballet) for 9 years, played basketball for 9 years, played volleyball for 4 years, did competitive gymnastics for 3 years, played field hockey for 3 years, and did softball for 1 year. There were times when I would go straight from one practice to another; I was active to say the least. 

When I look back now it seems like a lot but for me it was just hanging out with my friends only we would be outside running around or in a gym doing suicides. Much to my parents dismay I didn't take it seriously until around 8th grade, but how serious can you really expect a 12 year old to be? I was just happy to be there and surprised I even made the teams most times. I remember during basketball my parents would get upset with me for smiling too much, they thought I lacked aggressiveness. 

You could be the ripest, juiciest, peach in the whole world but there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches. That's just life. 

With the exception of track (freshman through senior year) and volleyball (freshman through junior year, I jumped ship to Cross Country for my senior year) which I continued to do in high school, I was doing all of these sports during elementary and middle school. I got straight A's from 1st grade to 7th grade. I received my first B in Algebra 1, a high school class mind you, in the 8th grade and I was absolutely devastated. This was just the beginning of my rocky road with the world of mathematics. School was a breeze for me, I didn't even try most of the time. I enjoy reading, I enjoy writing, these were never challenging tasks for me. The homework, if we even got any, I usually finished at the end of class. I live in a very good school district and the schools are top notch, I was just a very good student, it was just easy.

And then I got to high school.

High School just raises the stakes for everything. Freshman year the only thing on my mind was, "these are the grades that are used to decide the rest of my life". My thought process was if you get bad grades then; you go to a bad college, you get a bad job, you end up homeless, and then you die. In my household college isn't one of those optional things, it's assumed, it's a known fact that you will attend college and get an education which I fully support. There's no such thing as being overeducated.

Since freshman year I've taken all honors and AP classes with the exception of math and science, those were always L-2 or "accelerated" which is like the next level down from honors. My brain cannot process math, I don't know why. It's just something I struggle with a lot. Albert Einstein once said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." I am a fish trying to climb a tree when it comes to math. It just doesn't work. And it's not even all math; I can do real world math that I will actually use in life, I got an A+ in accounting, so I will be able to do my taxes, pay my mortgage, pay my bills, and handle my personal finances but gosh forbid something like 2z³ - 3z² + 2z -3 = 0 come up in real life. Even with tutors I have consistently gotten C's in math since freshman year. I don't like it, I don't understand it, and most importantly I don't see the use for it. I have no plans to be a mathematician or a scientist so someone please tell me when I will use precalculus in my daily life!? When will I exclaim "Oh thank goodness for that geometry from freshman year, I'd be in a real pickle without it!" It lowers my GPA and makes how I look on paper (test scores and transcripts and what not) seem merely average and I hate it and math is stupid. Not that I'm bitter or anything. 

And I'm involved in more than just sports; I'm in National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Peer Leaders, and The Scout (my school newspaper). I try to be well rounded and get a taste of everything. 

As of fall of my senior year I have 8 varsity letters. Being a student athlete, especially one who aspires to be a collegiate student athlete, is difficult. In my opinion it's completely worth it, but it's something you have to work at. Time management is not only a commodity, its a necessity. Different things are due at different dates for different classes, there are meets and games and practices everyday and homework due and everything just happening at once. It's a lot.

Freshman year was the first time I had to juggle serious sports with challenging schoolwork. Managing time is hard. The only thing I ever learned from science is that for every action there is a reaction. Freshman year I dedicated a majority of my time to school and my track performance suffered. Sophomore year I was fully consumed by track and I worked very hard in and outside of practice and my grades dipped. Junior year I tried to find a happy medium between freshman and sophomore year and my grades stayed the same but I had my best season yet. Action, Reaction. For senior year I'm just trying to push through and give it all I've got. This is the end of the "easy" part, after high school it's full speed to college then straight into that "real world" I've heard so much about.

I'm not going to lie and act like after a hard workout or a long meet I haven't just showered and crawled into bed, fully knowing I have homework to do and tests the next day. In that moment, when you're that tired and depleted, there's just nothing left. Seven hours of school, three hours of practice, you're just completely done. 

But you have to suck it up, get it done, and do the best you can. And yes, sometimes that means just writing whatever and doing the bare minimum just to get by, but that's better than just blatantly not doing it. 

A majority of the time it's just having the maturity and the will power to get stuff done, to know there's a bigger picture, something you're working towards. Really it's preparing you for life I guess. I mean I've only experienced the high school version of "life" thus far, but I've observed my sisters and parents for years and it seems like a million different things, all going on at once, that all require your care and attention. Just do the best you can, the last thing you want is to look back and wish you had done more, or pushed yourself, or tried harder. You can do it, I believe in you!

Life's tough, nobody makes it out alive

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