My Last 50 Days as a GBS Athlete


Koopersmith flashes a big smile on the soccer field. Photo courtesy of Rachel Koopersmith.

Rachel Koopersmith, staff writer

When talking to my parents about my first AYSO soccer game, they mentioned that three things instantly came to mind. One, that I cartwheeled on the field more than touched the ball. Two, that the bright pink uniform, many sizes too big, draped over me like a dress. And finally, after the first game, I announced that I was the seventh best on the team. There were eight girls on the team, including me. 

I was not very good at soccer. 

Over the last 12 years, I have played a multitude of sports ranging from softball, dance, and the sport I currently play, field hockey. Inevitably, in the next 50 days, I’ll put on my jersey for the last time. Inevitably, in the next 50 days, I’ll play my last game as a South athlete.

 In all honesty, I’m not ready. 

For the past 12 years, sports impacted my life. Every summer up until sophomore year was spent playing travel softball and every fall of high school has proved to be a challenge finding a balance between schoolwork, friends, family and field hockey.

 Even while I’m not in season, sports provide a connection to the people I’m closest with. It is through sports that I’ve met some of my best friends. 

While I am not playing anywhere at the collegiate level, I can carry on the lessons I have obtained and apply them to future instances in my life. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned, regardless of what sport I was playing at the time, was drawing the distinction between hard work and competition. Kara Lawson, Duke University’s women’s basketball coach, vocalizes this distinction well. She expresses that anyone can work hard, in fact, billions of people put in hard work every day. Lawson emphasizes that hard work is something that can be forced upon, but competing can not. You can not force someone to compete.

When I was younger, I hated the thought of playing games that had a winner and a loser. I thought everyone should win. Now that I’ve grown up, when I think about competing, I don’t think about winning or losing. 

For me, competing means pushing to be the best version of yourself: the best athlete you can be, the best student you can be, the best child you can be, the best friend you can be. Competing means pushing your comfort zones to achieve goals  you didn’t think you could in the past. 

I know two things for certain when I walk off the field hockey turf for the last time. 

The first – I’m going to cry. Those tears may be due to a devastating playoff loss, or the sheer joy of celebrating a state championship. 

The second is whether I win or lose, I’ll have no regrets. I will have done everything I could to be prepared to play in that game. I am grateful for all that sports have given me and while I am not “signing off” quite yet, I will cherish this last month as a GBS athlete.