Being home is always inspiring on numerous levels. When I'm feeling lost, or in search of something home is always where I go.
Returning to the athletic center I practically grew up in is always emotional. Apart of me wanted to hop right back into the 5am workouts and grueling afternoon practices. A part of me was relieved that I no longer have the stressors of being a collegiate athlete, and a part of me felt empty.
I spent a couple days back at McKale and I found myself suddenly remembering events that took place in my four years as a student-athlete. I remember the amazing moments I had and the moments that tested my character. I remember maxing out on power cleans and crying in Coach Harvey's office.
I saw my former teammates and recruits who are now in the finals years of their sport and I’m excited for them, but I also worry.
When you’re able to take a step away from the chaos your perspective changes. After being in the “real world” for one year there are so many things I want to share with the athletes I once was.
1. Don’t take your time for granted. You have been granted such an amazing opportunity. An opportunity that soooooo many people wish they had. Use it to your advantage. Unfortunately you may not be apart of the 2% who turn professional, but use your sport, use what you’re learning RIGHT NOW as your platform.
2. Be present, but plan for your future. I thought I took advantage of all the resources and career development opportunities, but spending a year dealing with the workforce has been stressful. One thing I realize I could have been more proactive about was planning for the future. Get an internship. Get two internships. Get three! Use those internships to figure out what you’re interested in. You’ll not only be getting experience which goes a long way, but you’ll also realize that sometimes the thing you thought you wanted to do for the rest of your life…. you hate. And that’s okay.
3. Enjoy your youth. Your freedom. Now, that doesn’t mean go crazy, but seriously. It’s so true what they say. It’s the best time of your life. The next time you see an athlete you’ve never spoken to say hi. Ask them their sport. Be kind.
4. Don’t worry. I wasted sooooo much time worrying. Worrying about school, worrying about competiting, worrying about everything that I never saw the beauty in my craft. The lessons in “failure” and adversity.
5. Have a plan. Plan A. B. C. D.
6. Save. I know you probably think you need to spend alllll your money on gear, a nice apartment/house etc. but save some of it!
7. Take risks (this is more so for once you graduate). You're young. It’s really all about trial and error and just experiencing life. TRUST ME. I’m 23 and I struggle with "figuring out my life" on a daily basis and how I’m going to retire by 29, but it’ll be okay.
8. Give yourself a chance. Seriously. You know why most people never become great? Because they’re afraid of their greatness. OWN YOUR GREATNESS, and never be apologetic about it.
9. Use your talent, your sport, your passion as a platform to create change. You’d be surprised how strong the voice of a student-athlete is.
10. Leave it all on the field, the court, and the track.
Being in college is such an amazing experience and being talented enough to be a collegiate student-athlete is a feat most will never experience in their lifetime. Make the most of your 4-5 years. These truly are the best years of your life. Enjoy the chaotic, stressful, glamorous times! Enjoy the travel! Enjoy making friends on other teams. Enjoy being apart of one of the greatest communities!