I feel like I have nothing to show for my success and work ethic. Despite the training I had over the summer, the lack of playing for over two months and the year of missed competition, I feel as though I am more behind than ever. At times, I question my ability and capabilities of being a college athlete in times of COVID.
When AU students were told they could compete and attend practices again, I was ecstatic and eager to get back to work. However, once competition began, I started getting discouraged. When I had my first match, I played horribly; I got tired and out of breath twice as fast because of the masks and felt embarrassed by my skill level, especially during a competitive match with my coach and teammates watching. This was the first time ever when I genuinely felt incapable of being an athlete, let alone the captain of the women’s team.
After the match was over, I felt nothing but disgust and shame for having been a leader to this group of girls, for my mindset was completely negative and I lacked a great deal of focus. At times throughout my match, I questioned if COVID was to blame for the outcome, but continuously put all the fault on myself, which further led to toxic and unhealthy thoughts about being an athlete and my role on the team.
It wasn’t until I gathered my emotions together and spoke with my coaches when I realized I was being too hard on myself; I was not giving myself enough credit. We ALL deserve to give ourselves credit for how far we have come, for how we continue to deal with the world as it is in comparison to being a college athlete. The Head Coach Jordan Crouch reminded me that I was a great athlete and earned the right to call myself the captain, but more so a person who makes mistakes and chooses to learn from them.
You are capable. As a college athlete, it is normal to have doubts about yourself and feel weak at times. It is simply being human. However, once you step out on the court/field, you must remind yourself of how far you have come. You must realize that the amount of emotional and physical effort you have applied into your sport has downsides to them; you get exhausted at times and question your character, capability, work ethic, skill, and more so talent. You must apply those negative thoughts into your game, for the love you have for your sport is ultimately the reason why you’re playing in the first place–apply that. Apply your drive to your mind and snap out of the negative thoughts because the times we’re in are hard and none of it is your fault. COVID has negatively affected so many things with school, relationships, connections, and especially sports. “Control what you can control,” Coach Crouch says, “because you have the power to get through anything you set your mind to.”
Despite an unsuccessful tennis season, I have learned to accept change and live with it, along with giving myself more credit for the time and energy I have applied to myself and sport. I realized that although COVID can make things very depressing, there is always something to learn from it. The effects of COVID and how it impacts our abilities on the court/field are NOT OUR FAULTS. We continue to work hard and play the sports that we love because at the end of the day, that’s all we really have. We keep fighting and grow within our character, mentality, and skill despite the obstacles that get thrown in our way. Do not let COVID take your passion away, too. Keep playing the sport you love and continue staying positive and optimistic, for it will all pay off in the end.
By Kailey Reyes