Personal Narratives

This year I became a 3-sport athlete. Here’s what it taught me.

June 7, 2023

By Vielka Castillo
Staff Writer

Starting high school has given me the opportunity to take on new hobbies and explore my interests, one of them being sports. I’ve never been much of a sports fan, and the thought of being in an environment that could easily get me injured is not ideal.

Nonetheless, I decided to challenge myself this year by becoming a three-sport athlete, joining the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams. I had never run competitively before, and I knew that there were still multiple ways I could get hurt, but I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, and as the school year comes to a close, I can confidently say I reached that goal, especially in the multiple mile and 2-mile races in which I competed.

I have always enjoyed running and being active, but it’s not the same doing it competitively. I was also worried that I wouldn’t know anybody on the team or that I would want to quit mid-season. Especially in a sport like track where everyone is pretty much doing different events based on skill and preference, it can be easy to feel isolated. Even with a friend or two, one is likely to find themselves with others whom they don’t know. Luckily, a lot of people I knew decided to join the team as well, and it made the sport a lot more enjoyable for me. 

I’ve learned the importance of taking care of my body off the track so I can work hard on the track, along with knowing my capabilities and when a certain pain requires extra attention.

One factor students rarely realize when joining an athletic team is the impact it has on their schedule. I never realized how much free time I had until I was a month into the cross-country season and realized I hadn’t been hanging out with my friends at all. Practices took place every day, and even though they only lasted about an hour or two, homework and other house chores followed. On race days, During the cross country and outdoor track seasons, I sometimes didn’t arrive home until 7 or 8 p.m., and during the indoor track season, meets sometimes kept me out until 10 or 11 p.m.    

Don’t get me wrong, being on a sports team is manageable, but at first, it felt like my whole life was centered around athletics. Practices that take place every school day and sometimes even on weekends in addition to races and games can be exhausting and interfere with other plans. After I became a student-athlete, my calendar was suddenly packed with just sports-related events. 

Having little time for friends and family made my life seem unbalanced, but eventually, I got used to it and no longer felt physically and mentally overworked. I know now that there is a difference between training my body to reach new limits and doing more than I can, and that’s something I always keep in mind when running. It’s hard not to stop when cramping or when feeling like my lungs have reached full exhaustion, but in reality, the body can do way more than the mind thinks it can. I’ve learned the importance of taking care of my body off the track so I can work hard on the track, along with knowing my capabilities and when a certain pain requires extra attention.    

While it may seem like there are many downsides, I am really glad I decided to participate in three sports teams during my freshman year. It was intimidating at first, especially being with older and more experienced athletes, but it all became a lot easier after I realized that everyone has to start somewhere. 

Having nice coaches made it even easier, as I knew they would understand and help me in any situation. I remember going home sick because of a really bad stomach ache and completely forgetting to let my coaches know that I wouldn’t be attending practice. Not communicating with coaches about being absent is a problem, but my coach completely understood the situation after I talked to her about it. 

Overall, being active has so many physical and mental benefits. It makes our bodies work better and keeps our minds cleansed and focused. I don’t have much self-motivation when it comes to running off-season, which is something I want to work on, but in the meantime, I make sure to work out because it is my priority to stay active.

I don’t think I will run cross country next year, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I’ve run for three seasons and am ready for a break. Cross country practice starts in early summer, and it’s just not what I want to do at this moment. Still, I’m proud of myself for sticking with three sports teams this year and for not giving up. I always tried to find little reasons to keep going, even when there seemed to be none. The few medals I earned and the personal records I achieved have made me feel like I reached my goal.

One thing I can say about starting a sport–whether you are taking on a new one or joining an athletic team for the first time–is that the satisfaction and pride that comes with it is the main reason everyone should try it. There is nothing that can compare to the feeling of being proud of yourself, and I feel fortunate to have experienced that this school year.

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