My parents got me started in club volleyball at the young age of 8. I started playing with taller, stronger, older, and more experienced girls than myself, and was constantly in a state of challenge. Entering the competitive and demanding world of club volleyball at only 8 years old, gave me a reason to ALWAYS have a goal to work towards.
I was a part of teams that always expected more of me. I was that tiny girl on the bench with kneepads that would fall down because they were too big. But that didn’t stop me from striving to do whatever it took to get on the court next to the other girls. No coach or teammate ever used my inexperience or young age as an excuse for me. They expected me to work just as hard or harder than the other girls on the team.
My time as an athlete also taught me the importance of goal setting. I’ll never forget when we made the goal to go to the state volleyball tournament when I was a sophomore. It seemed out of reach to some, but we knew we had what it took to make it to state. We would do ANYTHING to reach this goal – we even vowed that we would all shave our heads if that meant we would make it to the state tournament. 🙂 We put a reminder of this goal on our lockers, shoes, t-shirts, calendars, and more. It never escaped us. Needless to say, we not only made it to the state tournament that year, but we WON the state tournament that year and the following year as well.
Sports also taught me about time management. “Free time” was rare, but when it did come along, we usually filled it with watching film, scouting other teams, or additional practice. Homework was done on busses, during fresh/soph games, or late at night before going to bed.
I was lucky enough to have coaches that were never “easy” on me. Every volleyball, basketball, or track coach was extremely tough, and criticism was handed out more often than compliments. At the time, I didn’t realize how much this would have helped me in the future. I didn’t grow up in the era of handing out participation trophies, and I couldn’t be prouder. I have a collection of medals from 1st to 3rd place, and every single one of them makes me proud.
Now that I’m a part of the corporate 8-5 world, I realize more than ever how sports carried over into my professional life. I expect to be criticized more than complimented. I expect to always have something bigger to strive for. I expect to catch up on work at 9 pm if I have to. I expect to work collaboratively with a team to achieve a common goal. I expect to achieve those goals and if not, analyze why we didn’t.
Being a student athlete is one of my favorite accomplishments and something I will forever cherish. I still cry sometimes thinking about how much I miss being out on the court with my team.
Comment below and share this blog post if you feel that sports shaped you into the person you are today.