This is the end.
According to Merriam-Webster, a team is “a group of people who compete in a sport, game, etc. against another group.” This statement is true, but for those who have played a sport for most of your life, this is the end of one of the most significant pieces of your life.
On the day you first stepped on a field, court, rink, whatever it may be, the most important thing on your mind was probably what flavor of GO-GURT the team mom brought for the end of the game that day. Little did you know that you would be playing this sport for a majority of the most important years of your life.
You had no idea that you would dedicate countless hours to this sport. Despite wanting to spend it with your friends or simply laying in bed you wouldn’t trade a single hour of it now. These days, even waking up at five in the morning to drive to the middle of nowhere while your parents run a dictatorship over the radio manages to still have a nostalgic appeal to it.
All those hours spent training, they’ve come to this. You are now a collegiate athlete, and while some people may go on to become professionals, for most of us this is the end. At this point you begin to question things, wondering what may have been if you had never decided to try this sport. Would you even be the same person?
I know I wouldn’t.
This sport, the lessons it has taught you about success and failure, are irreplaceable. The friends you’ve made are ones that will last for a lifetime. And the coaches, although they drove you nuts, they made you better, not just at the sport, but as a person.
Now you are approaching the end and it’s getting a bit frightening. Every play, every at bat, every down, they’re all one-step closer to the end. You’re pushing. The thoughts circle in your head. This is the end. I need to do this right. It’s the last time.
My advice to you, stop pushing. Look around you. See the people who have made this journey with you. Thank the ones who have stayed by your side the whole time, those who have cheered you on when even you couldn’t cheer yourself on.
Remember why you played this sport for so long. Remember why you let it consume all your time and sometimes even your health. But most importantly, remember how much it means to you. Appreciate it in both your victories and failures.
Take the lessons you have learned from your sport and use them in your future. Because if your experience was anything like mine, your sport has changed your life for the better. It has made you the strong minded, capable person you are today, and in any endeavor you may seek out you will find yourself drawing from your experiences as an athlete to help you find your way.
For your athletic career this may be the end, but in truth it has prepared you for what is to come.
This is the beginning and you are ready for it.