BROWN: Lessons learned from four years as student-athlete

Carolyn Brown

I am approaching the last games of my entire softball career, and I can hardly believe it. I still remember my first practice freshman year when I wasn’t even sure if I had a chance of making the team. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotions I will feel when I walk onto the field for the last time. What will it feel like to pick up a softball for the last time as a competitive athlete? I never would have expected to be asking these questions, and now my final competition is quickly approaching. These four years have gone by so fast, and looking back on this time as a student-athlete, there are memories and lessons that I will take with me forever.

The biggest lesson I learned over these four years is how hard you have to work in order to succeed. Nothing is going to be easy in life. If what you are going after is easy, then it’s not worth it. Only things that are difficult and require hard work end up mattering the most, and when it came to softball, hard work is what it took for me to play at this level. I have given up my spring and summer weekends since I was 10 years old, and that was fun for me. The thought never crossed my mind that I would someday reach the caliber of a college athlete. When it came to deciding whether or not to continue athletics in college, I didn’t really realize how much of my time, emotion and energy was needed in order to drive my successes. This was not one of my summer teams anymore; this was a team that included individuals who were as willing and devoted to their own success as I was, and standing out among the crowd was going to take that much more work.

Another lesson I can take with me is knowing how to fail. Not only do I know how to fail at what I have tried to accomplish, but I know how to pick myself back up and refocus. I now know that I cannot be stopped from what I want to achieve. Many do not know the feeling of failure, but not only do I know what it feels like – I also know what it feels like to recover. This has made me a stronger person, and I know the only person ever standing in your way is yourself.

I have also learned that teammates are the most important aspect of the game. If it were not for my teammates, I would not have been able to succeed or been able to continue playing sports. If my teammates are hurting, I am hurting. If they are happy, I am happy. My teammates are the ones who have been there for me these past four years – not only in softball but in life in general. They have been my family these past four years. They know everything about me and are more important to me than they even know. If I continue anything after college, it will be maintaining the relationships I have made on this team.

Life as an athlete has taught me how to support everyone in my life. Every one of my teammates has a different personality, and I have learned through these four years how to support each one of them. We have learned as a team how to support each other through good times and bad. The support system that this team has provided for me is unforgettable. I will always understand the value of support in any of my future endeavors.

Softball has also taught me that there is more to life than softball. When I look back at these four years in college, I am not going to remember that if that throw would have gone a little more to the right she would have been out, or if I would have hit that ball a little more on top I would have gotten a base hit and scored the runner. No, these instances will be insignificant and not remembered. Looking back on my four years at Villanova, I am going to remember the relationships I made, the lessons I learned and the accomplishment of completing four years as a Division I student-athlete. I did it.

———————-

Carolyn Brown is a senior communication major from Oklahoma City, Okla. She can be reached at [email protected]