I remember my last sports game of high school. I was playing volleyball at the time, and my team was in the silver medal championship game of the National Homeschool Volleyball Tournament. I remember feeling nostalgic the whole game, thinking about how it was the last time I was going to play alongside these girls I had played with for four years.
I had to set aside my overthinking and throw myself full force into the game, playing like I had all the time left in the world. It was probably too much force, because I felt my knee crack and the cold metal seat of the bench half-way through my last high school game.
I remember feeling angry and hurt that I was out. Angry at my knee, angry that it was my last game and angry that my last few moments playing my sport had been taken away. But I pushed through that anger and cheered on my teammates as we lost one of our best played games.
You never know when it’s going to be your last play, your last game or your last huddle with your teammates. This isn’t any reason to be sad, but a reason to really live in the moment and enjoy every second of your sport while it lasts.
It’s not often that college athletes continue to play their sport after graduation, so this is often the last time they play their sport on an official team in an official league.
Playing a sport forms a person mentally and physically, and athletes put part of their identity into their game. Being student athletes is part of who they are as they put a lot of their time and energy into it. But playing a sport is not all there is.
This forces you to look past playing athletics, as one day you’re going to hang up your jersey and put your cleats into your bag for the last time.
According to a NCAA study, three out of four student athletes experience difficulty retiring from competitive sports. You no longer have a coach pushing you to exercise, teammates encouraging you to play your best and a sport that you can put your energy into.
As I am writing this, I feel nostalgic, as I am confident that I will be one of those three out of four student-athletes. Yes, it will be hard to leave the game, but it’s also an invitation to play to your fullest now.
As graduation creeps up on us, take this time to throw yourself full force into the game. It’s time to strengthen those friendships with teammates and play to the fullest as our last season comes to an end.
Playing the last game of your student-athlete career is not the last time you will ever kick a soccer ball, spike a volleyball or dunk a basketball. Your sport will always be there, even when you leave your Franciscan team. So, play hard with your Franciscan team and live in every moment of every game. Don’t let yourself get angry but allow yourself to enjoy every last second.