Growing up as an athlete, I learned a lot of things differently than other kids. I played soccer with a team and my teammates were like my family. I thought of them all as my sisters and was very close with each of them. We traveled away every weekend together to go play 3 or 4 games in a weekend and be exhausted by Sunday but it was worth all the effort.
We had the same group of coaches throughout our years playing together as well. They instilled certain values in us in different ways than most kids learn these values. For example, leadership was the biggest value I took away from my soccer experience. I was captain for 6 years straight and with that came a lot of responsibility and decision making. I had to tell my teammates what we were going to wear every night for practice, traveling outfits for driving to games and jersey colors for games.
I also was very vocal on the field with my teammates letting them know when they were doing a good job and what we needed to improve on as a team. One year, when my team wasn’t doing as well as we had all hoped, I started to become very negative and I didn’t realize it until my coaches told me to lighten up and stay positive and optimistic. That was another lesson I learned–to stay positive, even when things aren’t going your way.
Staying positive has gotten me through so many things in my life that I didn’t think I would be able to get over or to see something turning out for the better for myself. Whenever I’m having a terrible day or struggling with schoolwork or something else in my life, I just think back to all of those times I was on the soccer field with my teammates, my family, and my coaches on the sidelines watching me and expecting me to be positive like they had shown me and taught me.
I’m so thankful I learned not just these two but many valuable lessons from playing soccer and other sports as well. I think it helped me grow up quicker and become a better and more positive person and equipped me to deal with hard times in my life.