After the Game Ends

By Megan Miller

You have spent years putting in the hours at practice, putting on your game face, and putting up with the pain for the sport you love. You spent so much time being dedicated to your sport that you never even had to consider what would happen when it all comes to an end. There was always another season; you had a whole college career ahead of you…until you didn’t make the cut.

It’s no secret that collegiate level athletics are a whole new game. Recruiters take the place of friendly teachers judging your high school tryout, and people from schools all across the country take the place of your best friend by your side. Recruiting websites have been bookmarked on your computer, coaches’ phone numbers and emails saved in your phone contacts. Your parents spent a good portion of your last varsity games holding a camera; after all, the coaches need to see some game film before they sign you to their team.

You always thought your dedication would be enough, didn’t you? You were the high school star, the varsity starter, the one who could always be counted on. You were always an asset to any team you were on, so it only seemed natural that you’d play for college you wanted to. You ran the team in high school, so why wouldn’t you make it after you graduated?

Then one day, that college coached turned you down. All of the work was for nothing, and you weren’t good enough in the end. It felt like the end of the world, didn’t it? It always does at first. Suddenly you’re stuck in an identity crisis. You can’t be “the lacrosse guy,” “the football player,” “the volleyball girl,” anymore.

You’ve probably been an athlete for so long that you don’t even remember what else you can be. It’s important to remember that you have other talents, other passions, other friends. If you don’t have them now, then you will. It’s important to remember that college coaches not wanting you for their team is okay; it doesn’t take away from the great career you had. Don’t let your love for what you used to do be taken away because you didn’t get the ending you always imagined. Your awards, your achievements, your memories are yours to cherish. Your friends aren’t going to stop loving you because you didn’t make it, and it’s okay for you to be happy for them when they do; you won’t sound like a hypocrite, you’ll sound like the supportive teammate they know you are.

Quitters are the ones who should be ashamed; athletes are the ones who fought until they couldn’t fight anymore. Working for what you wanted and falling short in the end hurts, but it’s a chance for a new beginning, and it’s up to you to make it the best you can. So, high school athletes who aren’t playing in college, what’s your next move? Step 1 : pick your head up, because your coaches spent too much time teaching you to be tough for you to give up on yourself now.

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