Athletics vs. Academics
From a young age, I have always expressed a passion for sports and a love for knowledge. As I grew, both began to compete for my time. My dad began teaching me about the stars and an infinite number of galaxies that exist. It sparked my desire for knowledge and began my journey to figuring out the why’s of the world and how they work. Around the same time, I began to play for my town soccer league, the Lincoln Youth Soccer Association; everyone in town played. Soccer sparked my love for sports and athleticism. Around 5th grade, my passion for soccer slowly dwindled, and the exciting transition from elementary to middle school took center stage. Starting the summer of 5th grade, I began to play field hockey and started to stray away from “traditional” sports.
In middle school, the course work rigor was easy to keep up with. There was no struggling to complete assignments in those grades. As the years progressed into high school, my homework increased from 30 minutes to 3 hours, as did my practices. This put a huge strain on my life, as I had to learn how to budget my time. It was either leave practice early and miss crucial training time to do homework, or wait until after practice when I was extremely exhausted and half-heartedly complete the assignments that would still take hours to complete.
The academic transition from high school to middle school seemed easy at first. Freshman year was a breeze, so I decided to up the rigor and start a new sport, track and field, more specifically throwing. I also chose to take almost all honors-level courses in the following years. These courses tested my ability to balance a healthy relationship between being an all-star athlete and desiring to be successful in the classroom. I began to put twice the effort into my already tight schedule. This intense schedule meant sacrificing an hour of practice time every so often, so I could keep up in class, oftentimes that did not even help.
Winter drew near and the track season began to get into full swing, while my practices and meets began to stretch later and later into the shortened days. Some days I would not get home until six o’clock, other times as late as nine p.m. From there I would eat dinner, shower, and do my homework until the early hours of the morning. I could not sacrifice good grades for track; I longed to have a better balance of the two.
As my years in high school progressed, so did my success and passion for track and field. I began traveling on weekends for regional meets, while simultaneously studying for the SAT’s, a test that determined my future. Before I knew it, I was competing at the most prestigious track and field event for high schoolers in the country, New Balance Nationals Outdoor. I had missed the entry mark winter of junior year by two inches. For the next five months I worked harder than I ever did before, pushing past limits that I did not believe I could break. Adding more weight in the gym, putting all my energy into every throw, and making every second during practice count was exhausting. After tireless months, the day finally came for the last qualifying meet of the year. It was the day after prom, fatigued and barely awake, I stepped into the circle and had my best technical throw ever. I threw my personal best throw of 135’4”. It meant the world that I made the entry mark for outdoor by three feet and qualified.
Soon after I successfully completed at New Balance Nationals, I began to reach out to college coaches, and to my surprise, they reached back. After the first email back from a college coach, it hit me that I needed to keep up both good grades and good marks to bring my competition to the next level. Without keeping up with the rigor in both, I could lose it all. Senioritis, which I had looked forward to for the past three years, dissolved in an instant. I needed to keep everything flowing seamlessly for the rest of the year to get into college. This meant taking college-level classes, writing detailed to-do lists and spending time at the library. Never in ninth grade would I dream of spending my day off in the library, making sure I met deadlines and that all my work was my best work. I deliberated with my father for hours over the proper word choice to use in emails to coaches. Tests, emails, quizzes, and words all could determine my future. It was easy to slip up, miss deadlines and rush to finish homework during lunches, but it was no longer sustainable. I am the only one in charge of where my future will go. This meant taking advantage of the resources given to me. Studying in countless college libraries as a senior in high school. My future plans are to go to college for track and field and pursue a degree in neuroscience or biology. If things don’t change, I plan to pursue graduate school, and from there, become an optometrist. Hopefully, while finally figuring out the why’s and how’s of the world along the way. I hope that as my secondary education and my collegiate career progress, I am able to find better ways to balance and maintain my academic and athletic life.