When I was in high school I was a triathlete, and it was pretty awesome.
My parents were super proud of me – for several reasons – but one of those reasons was probably because of all the time and money they’d spent “grooming” me for sports as a kid. It worked!
My friends thought I was really lucky because I was good at every sport I played – not just one.
My coaches loved me because I was not only a team leader, but I hustled – I never gave up, no matter what the scoreboard said, or what my teammates attitudes reflected.
If I wan’t scoring baskets, then I was racking up assists and steals; if I wasn’t nailing my serves, then I was diving for every hit that came remotely close to me; and if I wasn’t hitting home runs, then you better believe I was getting dirt on my face sliding into second.
It was at the beginning of my sophomore year that I started thinking about sports in a more long-term sense, which I hadn’t really ever done before. What was never on my mind before was the thought that being good at every sport I played was really fun as a kid, but it wasn’t going to get me onto a college team.
I realized my sophomore year that getting onto a college team meant I had to be great at one sport.
This also begged the question: Do I even want to be on a college team? Hold that thought…
Of the three sports I played – basketball, volleyball and softball – I’d been playing softball the longest. Skill-wise, that’s probably the sport I was best at out of the three. But at the time, it was my least favorite to play.
I loved both basketball and volleyball, but I felt like I had a lot more potential when it came to volleyball.
When I played basketball, I was never the highest scorer, or even the one with the most steals. I was really fast, and I was a great team leader, which are both important things for a basketball team, but those two things were’t going to get me onto a college team.
So my sophomore year I decided to quit softball, and focus on the two sports I really loved: basketball and volleyball. Because I felt like I had more potential when it came to volleyball, I started joining club leagues in the off-season. Nights, weekends – whatever it took – I wanted to be the best I could be at a sport that I loved, and that I knew had potential in the long-term.
That didn’t necessarily mean that I had to quit basketball though – and I didn’t. I continued playing basketball, and during basketball season I gave it 110%. But when basketball season was over, the rest of the year was all volleyball.
I made it pretty far in club volleyball thanks to my hard work and dedication. I played on the best team in our league as a starter, and I gained an incredible family of girls – my teammates – along the way.
As I started approaching senior year and applying for colleges, I was forced to ask myself that same question – a question that I didn’t feel ready for: Do I even want to be on a college team?
I had invested so much time and energy into sports – literally, my entire life up to that point (that I could remember) had revolved around practicing, playing games, competing in tournaments… Was I really just going to throw all of that away just because I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to be on a college team?
I thought to myself that I’d be wasting an opportunity if I didn’t go for it. Sure, it would have taken a major sacrifice: I wouldn’t have been able to attended the college I really wanted to go to in exchange for a spot on the volleyball team.
Was it worth it?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been faced with decisions that I’ve felt were very difficult – I’m sure you feel the same way. Decisions that I knew – in the moment – were going to change the course of my life. That may sound drastic, but it’s true.
They were decisions I was really scared to make, because the outcome was unknown. I wasn’t sure what to expect from college, and therefore, I didn’t know whether being on a college team would be good or bad.
And then I realized something: that every single decision I had made up to that point had changed in some way, shape or form, the course of my future. Decisions I had made.
The fact that I was as good as I was at volleyball was thanks to my decision to quit softball. My decision to join club teams had contributed to my success as a great volleyball player.
In realizing this – back when I was just a senior in high school wondering if I wanted to be on a college team or not – I grew to understand just how powerful that idea is.
Every single experience we’ve had in our lives up until now has helped shape who we are. Our experiences have helped us – whether we like to believe it or not – become stronger, more successful, confident, knowledgable, better at what we do… and the list goes on.
The decisions you make are your own. Who you are today is who you are actively choosing to be. What you’re working towards now is something that you’ve told yourself is worth working for.
I never did end up playing on a college team. When faced with the sacrifice of going to a school I wasn’t interested in attending in exchange for a spot on the team, I knew in my heart that the right decision was to choose the school over the sport.
We all make sacrifices in order to pursue what matters most to us – whether that be a career-related move or a personal move. And I’ve definitely had a fair amount of career-related ones, too.
Making decisions is really tough to do. But at least you know they are your own.
If this post resonates with you, I’d love to know: What matters most to you right now, and what sacrifices you’re making in order to achieve it. Let me know in the comments section below!