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Student Athlete's Appreciation

As Thanksgiving is around the corner, I began to think about what I am thankful for. I credit this thinking to my service learning class and helping teach the first grade children that no matter what they all have something to be thankful for.

While most of the first graders answered family, friends or "my dog," a sad realization occurred to me that I have avoided this question for years, only sticking with the routine answer of "my family and my friends" just as these children did. I realized I am lucky for the experience I have been gifted to be in service learning in that classroom as the teacher asked me what I am thankful for. This brought me to what this article is about: I am thankful to be a student athlete even as minor as that may seem to some.

First, I would like to say I am by NO means the golden standard for a student athlete; I play golf for GMC just for the joy of being part of the team. Even in my own team, I see the amount of work others put into the sport. People on my team will range from crying about a score to seeing even the worst day as an opportunity to be outside.

The amount of stress put on athletes (often by their parents) is immense in some cases. With some athletes planning to go to college for their sport, they have the added pressure of pursuing both their grades and their sport with an expected 100% attitude towards each task.

This specifically is why I wanted to highlight the student athlete struggles. Most people would say they understand the difficult task of splitting their remainder of time after school between studying and practice; however, most do not see the mental capability one must have to play a sport. If you have had a bad day at school, you have to be able to push all that negativity aside and play your game with a positive projection of emotion.

Personally, this is my problem in sports, most who know me know I do have a large temper and a short fuse to get there. In golf, if I get upset, it is so easy to think the whole game will be negative from then on. By doing this, I guarantee myself a bad score in the end. This bad score will upset me for days, in turn making my attitude just as negative. It is a cycle I find hard to break. I am not the only athlete that has this same problem.

Sports are a mental game. Depending on if you win or loose that game can determine your outlook on life itself. Student athletes give this roll of the dice to their abilities instead of just excepting things how they are in everyday life. They are willing to change their schedule, body, speed and mental ability just to be the best. All athletes know there is only one 'best player' per team. They are willing to go to matches, games or runs and compete for this same age old prize over and over with no reinforcement but the amount they can convince themselves to accept.

I wrote this article to explain to athletes and non-athletes alike that this ability is amazing and cannot be taught another way. Being a student athlete should be appreciated not only by the pins and jackets received at the end of a successful season but by the attitude shown and given all year long for the constant extra pressure to the lives of the few willing to risk it all to be the best.

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