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Becoming an Athlete Changed My College Experience

How Walking on to a D3 Women's Lacrosse Team Changed My Whole Outlook on My College

Pre-Game Huddle

Picture this:

I am a sophomore in college. I just spent my whole summer looking at schools to transfer to. I felt as though my school didn't allow for differing opinions. I was bored; I needed a challenge. I walk to the sports center on campus to meet up with a friend to do special education homework. When I arrive, the first thing she says to me is, "Hey Kat, do you wanna join the lacrosse team? I'm on it, it's fun, and we get to go to California for spring break!" 

My response: "Shannon, I've never touched a lacrosse stick in my life."

Flash forward and I'm meeting with the coach who gives me all the gear I need and tells me that my first practice is that Monday afternoon. 

This was preseason, so that first practice was conditioning. We ran six miles. I never ran six miles in my life. But here's the thing about me, I am not a quitter, and this sure seemed like the challenge I was looking for. So, while all of my future teammates and coaches probably thought that would be my last practice, they would soon find out that they were wrong.

I went on to develop mild stress fractures in both of my shins because I decided to pick up a competitive sport 18 years into my life after only playing soccer in middle school. But that didn't stop me. While I couldn't walk without waddling, run well, jump, or jog, I could watch and learn.

A few months later and it's time for the season. I spent the winter healing my shins and I was ready to go. I found my niche as low defense and went on to start almost every game racking up a whole lot of playing time for my first year of ever playing the sport. But these things are the less important takeaways for me.

I no longer want to transfer. Through lacrosse, I found a community of people that are so much more like me. I've gained 16 instant best friends. I've become a leader of an athletes Bible study. I get opportunities to work with people who have special needs through my coach. I am in the best shape of my life, and I have a foundation of coaches and friends who support me. 

The thing about being an athlete is that it allows you to meet so many people. I bonded with the women's volleyball team, and a women's basketball player is our team manager. Through Bible study, I've built relationships with men's lacrosse players and women's soccer players that I would have never spoken to before. As a non-athlete, I would have never bonded with these people who are now my core friend group. I met so many different people that I can relate to in so many different ways.

Best of all, I am now being challenged.

Between 5am practices, then 5pm practices the same day, volunteering, bonding with my teammates, rehab with my athletic trainers (who are the best, btw), games, and on top of all of that, being a student with the most highly structured major on my campus, I don't have time to be bored. I flew by my whole life with straight As without even trying. I needed this push to make myself really work toward something.

Overall, the biggest thing I have learned is always to try something new; you might love it. I am happier now than I have ever been. I'm now craving to go back to school to be with all the people I love. 

Say yes to new things. Don't be afraid. Don't give up.

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Becoming an Athlete Changed My College Experience
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