It’s hard. I’m not going to lie.
You put yourself through grueling practices where you get pushed to your limits–both mentally and physically. Your body hurts. You suffer lapses in confidence because you’re not performing at the level you think you should be. You barely have time to study or do homework adequately because you are constantly on an eight-hour bus ride to some college to compete.
And sometimes you lose.
Despite all the hard things, nothing can compare to the unlimited amount of good things–nothing.
When you win. WHEN YOU WIN. It’s such a good feeling. You’re covered in sweat, exhausted, drained of all your reserves, but it’s so worth it when you pull off a big win.
When you fight to come back from a handy deficit and win. You fought. You took the adversity and accepted it, overcame it. No better feeling.
Free food and meals shared with teammates could be the best thing ever. The conversation and company shared with teammates stays with you forever. Inside jokes, bouts of laughter, and ganging up on coach always happens around the dinner table.
The relationships you form with your teammates are so unique and special. They are your family. You spend every day with them, travel on smelly buses with them, lose games with them, win games with them, endure punishments with them, practice with them, go to study hall with them, and–best of all–make memories with them. Teammates are everything in the world of college athletics. Love your teammates, work with your teammates, push your teammates.
Without them, you are nothing.
Being a college athlete–especially at the small college level–takes a special kind of person. You aren’t necessarily worried about the glory you may receive after playing one good game here and there. You aren’t worried about ESPN appearances. All you care about is playing the game you fell in love with as a kid. You get to play your game for four extra years and compete for a chance to become your best self.
Yes, college athletics is hard. But it can be so, so worth it.
“I know every mile will be worth my while. I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong.”