Four years into my high school career, I find myself focusing mostly on my regrets. The electives I never took and friendships I let fizzle out. The classes I could’ve tried harder in and the football games I missed. But in the whirlwind of my covid-stricken high school years, there is one decision I will never regret.
Going into my sophomore year, I took a risk. With too much time on my hands and an over-inflated sense of ability, I joined South’s Cross Country team.
The two-hour practices, six-days-a-week, a seemingly unmanageable schedule, were overwhelming at first. For the first few weeks, of the season, my legs were sore and my back ached constantly. My schedule, once open and clear, was filled with ice baths, running, and stretching.
It was stressful, I felt overworked, and my social life dwindled, but I had never been happier in my life.
The sense of purpose and community that I gained was worth every all-nighter and breakdown. My friends made fun of me. I was the girl who hated exercise, who was brought to physical pain by even the thought of running, but was now doing a 5k every weekend and loving it.
I wasn’t an amazing runner, and I’m still mediocre at best, but that wasn’t the point.
Sports are about more than winning.
The friends that turned to family and hard work that turned to confidence forever changed my high school experience for the better.
Cross Country forever changed how I viewed exercise and hard work, transforming me from the girl whose middle school gym teacher said she was a “C student” to a three-sport student-athlete.
If I could give any advice to underclassmen or even upperclassmen trying to make the most of their fleeting moments at South, I would encourage everyone to take a chance and join a sport. There is nothing more fulfilling than being part of something bigger than yourself. I promise you won’t regret it.