Being a student athlete is insanely difficult, especially in college. The way this system is set up makes it unnecessarily tough for students who love the sport they play, to continue.
The life of a student athlete goes something like this: lift at 6 a.m., breakfast at 8, class at 9, practice from 1-4, eat at 5, homework until midnight, repeat.
And that happens Every. Single. Day.
Until, someday, somehow it’s May and the season ends.
It’s an endless internal fight about whether to keep going or not. It feels impossible. It seems that no matter how much you love the sport, it just feels impossible to do it all. It’s draining.
Last year was the most difficult I have ever endured. Between softball, having a social life, being 3,000 miles from home in California, classes and survival, it just didn’t feel worth it.
Coaches, family, friends and even random people who just show up at your games, will encourage you to keep going. What they don’t tell you about are the emotional struggles that come with continuing on.
And the depression. The emotional toll the sport takes on you doesn’t just go away when you decide to stop playing.
It stays with you.
It eats at you.
My love for softball ended when I realized I couldn’t handle the stress of school and sports. If I could play at the collegiate level without having to go to class every day, I would in a heartbeat.
And I have lost people who used to be so close to me, simply because I stopped playing this sport.
I don’t think they understand.
They don’t understand what they’re doing to me, what they’re doing to themselves, or how this will impact us in the end.
This issue only makes the darkness darker, the sadness sadder, and the loneliness lonelier.
Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell myself to rethink my decision. I just have to keep telling myself I made the best choice for me.
In no way am I saying college sports aren’t worth it.
My experience definitely isn’t like everyone else’s.
I met some of my absolute best friends last year, and many years before, playing the sport I once loved.
I was able to travel and experience so many new things because of the sport and the people I met, and it continues to serve me in a positive way.
But watching my grades slip, my social life disappear, my body beg for me to slow down, and my mental health hit rock bottom all made the decision for me.