Athletes Share a Common Gift to Relate to Another

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I’m a retired high school athlete. Way back when I was a senior, I knew I would actively stop participating in cross-country and track in college.
It was obvious that I shed a few tears after my last cross-country meet. Then track ended as quickly as a 1600-meter race.
When fall came around and I headed to UC Irvine I was either in class or in my dorm room during the afternoons. I felt out of sync, because for the past couple of years my afternoons were soley dedicated to sports.
Believe me, not having to get up at the crack of dawn to run in an invitational was great, especially not having to strip down to my bare essentials, my uniform of course, in freezing weather. It was cold; I had the goose bumps to prove it.
I frequented the ARC a lot as a way to help the athlete in me transition from a state of pure muscle to body fat. Becoming a full-time student was easy, but the adjustment to being just a spectator at sporting events was hard.
I missed everything about running and being an athlete. From the feeling I got when I beat my opponent on the last 300-meters to coming home after weekday practices sweaty and blotchy to eating whatever my hands could grab and to finally noticing the tan I got from my sports bra.
A good chunk of high school seniors do not continue to be athletes for their colleges or universities for a variety reasons.
I chose to dedicate myself to my studies rather than be both a student and an athlete.
Plus, it’s hard to be recruited by your school of choice, which I was not, but still I had a couple of offers on the table.
Though I’ve taken a leave of absence, I believe I can categorize myself as a hidden athlete.
I played sports, injured myself (I rolled and sprained my ankle a good five times altogether) and went through difficult mindsets of doubting and believing in myself when I competed.
But now I’m in the background watching all the action.
I also believe that anybody who has ever competed in a sport shares a special bond.
We know how it feels to lose in the last seconds of a game, to be disappointed in one’s performance, or even to win and feel the rush of energy.
I remember one time when I took part in a relay team in my high school’s track and field invitational. I was the last leg in our distance medley and guess who ran the mile … me!
It was a moment to remember.
Although I was panting after I crossed the finish line, my team placed third. There they were rushing towards me, crazy with excitement while I tried to catch my breath and gosh darn it did you see me mom! She did.
These are the happy moments in my sports life, but I know plenty of people who have a mouthful to say about their own. See, we are all interconnected.
Okay, about the special bond thing, yeah it’s true, just admit it.
This past year when the Los Angeles Lakers did not even make it to the NBA championship game after three consecutive titles, who didn’t feel disappointed?
Oh, this is for those Lakers fans by the way, no offense to the Sacramento Kings fans because I think they’re pretty good too.
Or when the little Angels that finally won a Championship last year. Lastly, in UCI sports, do you think the hardcore CIA and sports fanatics of basketball felt a little tired after knocking on the NCAA door, hoping to be welcomed in, but again were left unanswered for yet another year? See, all athletes can relate.
Times have changed and so have I. I do not run as much as I should but my love for sports remains the same or even greater. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I write for the paper
Well I’ve covered a lot of ground but basically to all the new freshman who were active in sports just a few months ago and who now are not, do not forget there are other ways that you can still be involved.
Take for instance, the intramural sports offered by the ARC. You get to build new friendships with fellow teammates and still be active in what you love.
Also, for the new basketball players in town, you can go and pick up a basketball game at the ARC.
I know there are some good games played in the evenings on a daily basis so go check them out.
To think of it, I guess I was wrong; we are not so hidden after all.

You can reach Elizabeth M. Botello at ebotello@uci.edu.

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