I’ve been playing sports basically my whole life, whether it’s playing a lockdown defender on my soccer team, showing up my dad in a game of basketball, or playing kickball with everyone in the neighborhood. I definitely wouldn’t be the same person I am today without sports in my life.
For instance my club soccer team from when I was 10 years old, my coach Jason Hamill was almost like a second father to me. He taught me life lessons that I still use today and I don’t remember a single time when he raised his voice yet everyone on the team knew when we should stop messing around and listen. Another thing from that team that influenced me was my teammates. We were all on that team for several years and it felt like a family to us all, many of them I still talk to to this day and two of them are some of my best friends that I see on a daily basis.
There’s so many other instances and values from all my teams and teammates but I feel like the way sports have impacted me the most is with stress relief. From when I was a young kid I’ve had a disorder called TTD (Transient Tic Disorder) and it’s a lot like tourettes in which you make repeated movements that are involuntary. Mine react to stress. There wasn’t any medication or therapy that would really help me so I was stuck doing these movements without control. I never really felt like I fit in and was pretty hard on myself whenever I was out in public, I could always hear people in the background whispering about me. A lot of the time people would ask why I’m doing these things and I’d always have to come up with some excuse that wasn’t the slightest bit true. It was like everyone in the room, no matter where I was, was looking at me which made my stress even worse. I felt like no matter how hard I tried there’s no way I’d ever be normal and I hated myself for it.
But, thankfully, in middle school I decided to run cross country, track and play soccer, and little by little, I noticed the jerking of my body fade away and with it, my view of self disgust. The more I focused on working hard during practice, the more my whole outlook on life brightened, and the less paranoid I was during everyday life. I felt like for once in my life I would be able to fit in.
Nowadays I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I feel like I’ve finally found my place in life. People no longer look at me and if sports hadn’t pushed me and taken my focus off of my flaws, then I don’t think I would’ve overcome this huge hurdle in my life. I’m insanely thankful for everything that each team, coach and sports in itself has done for me.