The thing about our sport ending is that it rarely happens when we want it to. We always hear the cliche saying, "Play every game like it's your last". Sometimes it's an injury that takes away our playing days. Or sometimes it's a loss in playoffs when we had our hearts set on ending the season with a championship win. It almost always happens when we weren't ready for it.
It's true, there is no book written on "How to Cope with Your Season Being Ended By a Pandemic" so there is no right or wrong way to be handling this. We are sure for many, if not all of you, that this wasn't how you envisioned your season going. Especially for our seniors, this was probably the last way you thought your senior year was going to come to a close.
For athletes everywhere, this time will prove as a huge crossroads. This obstacle is much like the obstacles you've faced while playing. This event can be one that knocks you down for the count, or one that you rise back up from.
For our seniors whose sport has come to an end before they were ready, how are you going to move forward? Will you focus on the loss at hand? Will you let it ruin all of your positive memories and leave you with a bitter feeling? Or will you look at your experience as a whole, and not just the final chapter; all of the gifts this sport has given you, all the lessons learned, the strength gained, the way you'll never be the same because of it. Your sport has prepared you for your next steps in life in a way that only sports can do.
For those of you who have had to experience the loss of your season but have more seasons in the future, let this be the greatest reminder to you, to play with joy! Love every moment of it. Cherish the game and be grateful every single time you step foot on the field. Play for those teammates who no longer get to do so and remember every opportunity is a privilege.
So maybe you have more years to play, or maybe your soccer chapter is now over. Hell, maybe this lit a fire in your belly and inspired you to play at the next level because you don't want to let the game go (which in that case you should chase it and believe in yourself every damn step of the way). The most important thing to keep your mind set on now is the fact that this is just one chapter of your life.
The ball is in your court (no pun intended) on how you're going to handle this. You can let this situation keep you down and hold you back like an anchor, or you can let it catapult you forward like a canon.
Just because a sport ends, doesn't mean the way you can impact the world is anywhere near done. It is only beginning. You will go on to do incredible things in the world. Take all that sports has given you and keep it deeply ingrained in your being and your life and all that you do.
Take the leadership you've learned on the field and apply it to your career. Take the way you've always had your teammates' backs and be there for your friends and family in the same way. Take the opportunity to push your limits every day, and challenge yourself in new ways in this next chapter.
The athlete in you will never leave you if you don't want it to. Are you excited for what's next? Us, too.
P.S. Something we like to do when we're feeling anxious, frustrated, or upset is to set a timer for 5 minutes. During these 5 minutes, we want you to cry, shout, vent, and express your frustrations. Feel the energy within your body and LET IT GO. When the timer goes off, move on. No more sulking. No more feeling bad for yourself. From then on, we want you to think about how grateful you are for those experiences because of where it's brought you TODAY. Get excited about what your future holds (because spoiler alert - it's always the next best thing for you!)