Volleyball, like so many sports for young athletes of today, is no longer an afterschool activity a couple times a week for a few month season. Volleyball is a year-round commitment that starts as young as 10 years old which becomes a lifestyle and a youth’s identity. Youth are labeled as “the volleyball player” by friends and family. Parents dump tens of thousands of dollars into the sport (through training and travel). The expectations are high and filled with underlying pressure. These kids have a gamut of emotions that churn through their soul throughout not just the maturation journey, but the journey of sport. Following is a great open love letter by a Division I student-athlete (not one I coached) that expresses the raw emotions of these athletes’ lives as they navigate through this frenzied roller coaster ride.
This letter for you is going to be completely built on honesty. It is going to give
me a chance to explain my story and your impact on it. It has been a while since I really
just thought about you. Yes, of course, I love playing with you, and for you. However, to
be completely honest with you, I have gotten lost in all the thrill and trauma of it all that I
completely lost touch with who you really are and why you chose me.
Love is the biggest thing I notice when I think of you, or at least when I thought of you. I always figured if you love something or someone you would do anything to protect it and care for it. Therefore, because I loved you, I worked hard because I wanted to, not because I was told. I did everything in my being to be the best because I knew everyone was looking
up to me. You were looking up to me. Of course, you wanted me to be great. People that love you want the best for you. At least that’s what I thought.
Then I woke up one morning and I felt distant from you. I no longer wanted to work hard and be the best because of pure complacency. When you put obstacles in my way I failed a multitude of times. Instead of gurting up and getting through that, I backslid. I thought you had something against me. Turns out, I was the only obstacle in the way of greatness.
You have impacted my life so much. Without you, I would not be able to go to college. I
had the honor of meeting some of the greatest people ever because of the relationship I
originally had with you. Without you, I would not understand even the half of what hard
work meant. I don’t always show it, but I am viewed as a pretty smart girl. If we are
being completely honest I did well in school not only because my mother was borderline
crazy but because if I didn’t do well in school I wouldn’t be able to hang out with you. That
was my drive.
However, you also impacted me in a negative way. You allowed me to lose focus long before college. You allowed me to only care about other athletes because those were the only people I knew. You sheltered me. That wasn’t fair, but I can only blame myself for giving you that much power. I faced the nightmare that I may have to choose between you and school. We both know what my choice would have had to be.
A Major thing holding me back would be that You mean more to me than I show. First, I get so frustrated with you because I expect better out of myself, and I expected you to just give
it to me. You make me work for it and I hate that. Second, I mentally shut down when you
don’t agree with me, when games and practices are tough, you don’t encourage me or at least I was too stubborn to see that you do. Third, I let an injury get in the way of our
plans and I often let it overpower me. Fourth, I wasn’t determined enough. The playing
time was sitting right in front of me and I did nothing with the opportunity. And
lastly, selfishness was holding me back. I forgot that you have other friends and you can’t
always focus on me. Others are destined to be great as well. In saying that – I loved you, I love you, and I will love you when you’re gone.
The intentions of this letter were to help me figure out where we stand and I hope we get back to where our friendship originated.