I recently joined the soccer team. While at first I was intimidated by both the amount of running and the fact that I haven’t played soccer in 7 years, those nerves are now gone. They have been replaced by a deep sense of regret.

For most of the high school, I didn’t have the chance to play a “real” sport. My first high school didn’t offer league sports, just smaller less official sports teams. Thought I played everything, it wasn’t real. I didn’t feel the camaraderie of a team. Then I switched schools, excited about the possibility of playing sports.

Once the sports seasons started, I picked golf because it was my best sport. I have done golf for the last 3 sports seasons since I began and have enjoyed it. I got food at the golf course, didn’t have to run, and enjoyed playing with my closest friends at my new school. This was awesome, but something I regret.

Just a week into soccer and I am already regretting my decision/inability to not play a real team sport during high school.

Practicing with friends, running, making saves. I remember all of these things from youth sports and middle school, and I miss the feelings associated with them. I miss being part of a team and more than anything, I am scared that this is my last chance to be part of a team.

I am going to make the best of this opportunity and I’m gonna push to get the starting goalie position. I want this experience to be memorable, maybe there will be an in conclusion blog in a few months.

PC: Sports Illustrated

It’s Not Just A Sport; It’s A Life Style

We are sleep deprived.

We are sore.

We are tired.

We are hungry.

We have achy muscles.

We push ourselves to our limits day after day.

We attend eighteen hours of swim practice weekly.

We do a sport that works the ENTIRE body.

We endure vigorous, agonizing, grueling, strenuous sets.

We push our bodies until we throw up.

Our shoulders pop and crack constantly.

We wake up at four A.M. for morning practices.

We don’t only train in the pool, we run, lift weights, and basically do anything coach tells us to do.

We work and work and work for the hopes of dropping time, yet, many times, our times are stubborn and don’t budge.

We stare at a black line for hours. 25, 50,75, 100. 25, 50…

We cry at times.

We are always striving for a bigger and better goal than the one we just achieved.

“Normal” kids are watching TV; we are training.

We work nonstop, constantly, everyday to take off .01 seconds of our time.

We try our best and still get yelled at. We try our best and get rewarded.

We experience being unmotivated. We push through.

We don’t only strengthen ourselves as athletes, we strengthen our selves as people.

We suffer as a team, we grow as a team, we improve as team.

We make friends and experiences that will last a life time.

We have a second family.

We strive for that amazing feeling after working so, so hard. After giving a workout all you have, we strive for that feeling of accomplishment, achievement, effort, proudness, fulfillment.

We may forget it at times, but we love the sport.

We are swimmers.

A couple days in the past couple weeks, I have been in a slump when I go to practice. I am slower than my teammates who go and qualify for the Olympic trials. I feel slow. I push myself, yet still am slower than my teammates, I get discouraged. I feel like a failure, so I don’t work as hard as I should. I regret my performance in practice. I cry on the drive home.

Photo Credit: eBay.com

Today, I acknowledged the fact that I am on a fast team; my teammates are some of the best in the nation. I acknowledged the fact that I can be like them if I do what I do best: work hard. I acknowledged that I’m on this team for a reason.

Today, I worked so hard that my legs stung, my arms numb, my lungs burned, I got dizzy, my heart beat at what felt like a million miles an hour. At times, I was practically hyperventilating. At points, I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I pushed as hard as I could. I missed a couple intervals, but I didn’t give up. At the end of the set, my body still ached and burned, but I felt amazing. A feeling of happiness almost beyond words. A feeling that any true athlete understands. At the end of the set, I felt the feeling that makes me remember why I love the sport. Remember why I do all of the things listed above. Remember why I’m so deeply  in love with this sport.

Remember why I am proud to say: “I am a swimmer.”

Sweaty Hugs and Hard-Earned Gatorade

Photo Credit: thepreachersword.com

a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
synonyms: group, squad, company, party, crew, troupe, band, side, lineup, phalanx
come together as a team to achieve a common goal.
“he teamed up with the band to produce the album”
synonyms: join (forces), collaborate, get together, work together.
Sweaty hugs; cheering until my throat is raw;the pre-race jitters; hard-earned Gatorade; singing to “Africa” on the bus rides; pushing through almost unbearable pain; the cheers from my coaches and team mates; the feeling of success, when all the hard training and effort pays off; the happiness of coaches bringing food, after you just pushed yourself to your physical max; the endless support we have for each other; the amount of effort we put in; the dynamic and connection between us athletes; the fact that real teammates don’t only care about how you perform, they care about how hard you try. All these things contribute to the the feeling of being part of an authentic team, which is one of the best feelings that exists.
adjective: authentic.
of undisputed origin; genuine.
“the letter is now accepted as an authentic document”

synonyms: genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable

antonyms: fake. synonyms: reliable, dependable, trustworthy, authoritative, honest, faithful.

In my words, the way it should be: caring and real. 

I’ve been on many teams before. On some, we’ve won championships and received numerous trophies. On some, we placed last and got our asses handed to us. Winning is great, it’s what I strive to do, but I’ve realized that more than just winning that counts. I’ve realized that to have a good team, winning can’t be the only focus.

On a previous team, every day I would give my all. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, even the slightest mess-up resulted in dirty glares and angry shrugs. It made it so I was nervous to go to practice; I was afraid of my teammates; I pushed myself to the limits, because I was scared the punishment if I didn’t; and I was absolutely mortified before every game. This approach worked. I got stronger, I got better, I became a better athlete, but I forgot the fact that I love the sport.

After two years on that team, another opportunity came up, so I switched to a team with a VERY different dynamic. We pushed each other to do our best, to be our best. When slip-ups or bad days came, we encouraged each other to get better, not to feel like shit. I became so close to my teammates, I had good relationships with my coaches, I was so excited to go to practice everyday, and I pushed myself to the limits, because I wanted to get better for myself and my team. Our team performed just as well as the other one I mentioned and my love for the sport was rekindled.

Recently, I joined another team. I love both of the teams I’m on right now so much, but it’s been a long time since I have felt the feeling of happiness, appreciation, friendship, and passion as I did yesterday at my first ever cross country meet.

I know I love swimming far more than I love running, so it confuses me that yesterday, in this sport that I just joined months ago,  has brought me almost as much joy as the sport I have been doing for years. I think it’s just because swimming is more of an individual sport without a large aspect of team. I think its because the swim team I’m on has people who qualify for the Olympics or on the Junior National Team and I’m so slow compared to them, it makes me feel like I’m slow, period. Maybe its because a cross country the team is only as strong as its weakest link, so everyone is needed. Maybe because in the small league we run in, I too place high and feel like a good runner.

I think all of these things are a factor, but what I know for sure is that the feeling of being part of an authentic team is one of the best feelings that exists.

Brothers or Losers

Lacrosse is one of if not the hardest team sport offered to high school students. Coming into the 2016 season I had little optimism and little enthusiasm; we were coming off a no-win season and we were only losing more and more experienced players. We’ve added numerous new names to the roster, but very few of which have any lacrosse experience. It’s proving to be quite a challenge for the OVS lacrosse team to come together and play to their full potential.

For those that aren’t familiar with lacrosse it is a blend of soccer, hockey, football, and basketball. Every player has a stick customized to his preference and position. There are short poles, long poles, and a goalie stick. There are two half to a lacrosse field and ten players total. Three defensive players have to stay on their respective sides and three offensive players stay to theirs, the midfield can move between the two sides freely, the goalie stays in the goal. The game is very fast paced and each team will try to set up on the other teams side until someone has the opportunity to shoot on the goal. All players must wear a helmet, mouth guard, gloves, arm pads, and a shoulder pad. Lacrosse is a full contact sport that will make you want to quit after the first quarter of a game.

Here’s an in-depth video on what lacrosse is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXO1lPc3p38

I’m hoping that as the season progresses and we go through more practices and games the team can start to come together and learn to play this amazing sport as a team. Our first game comes March 16th, every game is winnable, but only if we want it more than the other team.

The Week That Changed My Life

This year, my club volleyball team California Heat had the opportunity to go to the Volleyball Festival, which is otherwise known as Nationals, in Phoenix, Arizona. We left on a Tuesday night at 12 a.m. so we could drive all night. The 4 teams took a gigantic tour bus that drove from state to state. With parents in tow behind us, it took us a total of eight hours to get there.

While sitting on a bus for that long is not super fun by any means, it created memories that I will never forget. The bus pulled up to our home for the next week and we all unloaded. After catching up on some much needed sleep, some girls from my team and I explored downtown Phoenix. The next day we had our first nine-hour set of playing volleyball in Arizona, which took a toll on all of us.

We as a team are used to long tournaments, but the thought that it was our life for the next week was daunting. After our long days of playing, the team and parents went out to dinner. Not only was playing nine to eleven-hour tournaments with my team a fear that we all conquered together, but also the time we had off the court was unforgettable. It is so interesting how experiences that a group shares together transform us all in the same way. Driving away from Arizona I felt like I did not only leave a 1st place champion, I left with memories I will take with me to my grave.

Photo Credit To: http://www.volleyball-festival.com/


Dancing Queens

Once the music starts, our bodies are not ours anymore. They follow the music beats as they were born to dance.
Everyday we practice in the Chem Lab, everyday we sweat, we laugh – we are the dancing team.

I was so lucky to have a chance joining our first dancing team at school before I graduate. I have always hoped to have dance team as a choice of sports.

Since the season started, twelve girls joined the team led by Mrs.Beverly. We came for different reasons. Some of us just love dancing, some of us came for losing weight. No matter what reasons they had, I was still glad to dance with a large group like this.

As a team we have been working on their own choreographies for both interest and a preparation for the upcoming musical. With our passions towards dancing, we learned and practiced movements involving various cultures as well.

Most of the girls have never danced before, and this became their first time working within a group which has marked as a great experience for them. Even though we are in different skill levels, we still contributed our best to the team.

As for us, the most important part for us was that we were able to use the sports time to get a head start on the dancing scenes for the musical, which we do not normally have time for. We choreographed “Dancing Queen,” “Medieval Dance,” “Men in Tights” together. And we also did a short performance during the basketball halftime game.

I personally love dancing.
I always believe that dancing is a way to express my feelings instead of speaking them. It gives me courage, power and helps me forget all the sadness and depression.
I love dancing. It is more than just the body movement. It embraces every piece of you and you will easily get lost in the music.

I will miss dancing with my friends.
My every dancing team has become one of the most unforgettable memories for me through my high school years.
Thank you all for dancing with me.

“When we dance, everybody listens.”

What Hill?

“Ready, set, GO!”

I’ve never even thought about running 3 miles before. And I am not kidding.
But once I reached that goal, I fell in love with running. And I am not kidding either.

I was not born to be a runner, so I did not treat running seriously in the beginning.

Last year I joined the cross-country team, because we did not have tennis.
“It’s just running, not a big deal,” I told myself. But I was totally wrong.

Everyday we ran different things. At the beginning, I could not even finish one whole mile without walking and the worst part of my day was always  sports time.
The sun never rested during the practice. We did harder workouts at least once a week. I could not walk the day after tough practice. I was hurting everywhere on my body.

But I was getting better.

Then I had to face the very first cross-country meet in my life – at Thatcher.
I was extremely nervous. I could feel my legs shaking and my heart was beating like a drum.
I did not expect to run the whole three miles, that seemed impossible to me. But I decided to try anyways.

Everyone was exhausted and I just kept running in slow pace. I thought about the days we ran together; I thought about how Mr. Alvarez encouraged us and pushed our backs; I thought about home and wondered if my parents were having fun this holiday; I thought… I thought about everything, i thought about nothing.
I just ran and ran.

Everyone was encouraging me as well. “Let’s go, Shelly!”

“Almost there!”

“Way to run girl!”
And yes, I finished it without stopping or walking. I guess that would be the time I felt the most proud of myself.

After the very first race, I changed my opinion of running. I did not hate it or fear it anymore. I started to accept it because I knew I was capable of defeating it.
Three month’s of training, the season ended strongly with all the incredible improvements i gained everyday.

This year, I was glad to see our cross-country team grow much bigger, with more than 20 people.
The weather was fervent as well, of course. We ran pretty much the same courses but it did not feel as painful as it did before.

As for me, running is not only the thing I do to fulfill my sports time. It changes me, slowly but thoroughly. I became faster and stronger.

Our team got new shirts this year, and they says “What Hill?” on the back. They are the best shirts ever, I think, because no one else but we runners know the special meanings of those two words.

Finally it comes – my last cross-country meet at Thatcher, the place where everything begins.

It is probably my last time running a whole 3-miles course with my friends, wearing the green uniforms which we would never stop complaining about.

We don’t run for the certain miles or the destination, we don’t run for fame or glory.
But we do run to conquer all kinds of hills, we do run to challenge and prove ourselves.

We line up as usual. Everyone is encouraging each other and smiling.

Suddenly my heart is filled with joy.
Suddenly I realize that running does not only bring me power and strength to defeat all the distance and hills; running brings me courage, friendships, love, and valuable memories.

Yes, we are Cross-Country Team.

Don’t Worry About It

This past Saturday our football team had our last league game against the Laguna Blanca Owls.

Contrary to how I was feeling going into this game, and what I wished had happened, we did not end up winning, but lost our fifth consecutive game.

Sadly this season came to an end sooner than I had hoped, and not the way I wanted to leave the field.

We finished with a final score of 44-26.

That is much closer than some games we have played, and once again we played a great second half, but it takes more than that to win football games.

We did not start off with a defense that was aggressive enough to set the tone early.

While we did stuff many plays, the Owls were able to put points up with more ease than they should have had.

Read More »

Trying Something New

Stepping out of my comfort zone is not an easy thing for me to do.
Generally, I don’t like to try new things, especially if I have to commit to them for a long time.

To be honest, I’m afraid of being bad at things that I try.

But this year, I promised myself that I would take new and appealing opportunities that came my way.

So, on a whim, I decided to join the soccer team.

It’s funny when I think about it, it really is. I am sort of clumsy, and I am the slowest runner you will ever meet. I also have no stamina what so ever. I knew I would end up making a fool of myself, but then I decided I didn’t care one bit if I did or not. I mean, how bad could I be?

The answer is, not too bad actually. Although I am very slow and have never played a day in my life before, it turns out I don’t suck as much as I thought I would. I was the manager/helper in past years of soccer, so I already know most of the rules and how the games work.

I know it’s not going to be easy by any means, but I’m so excited for this season. And honestly, I just wish I had joined sooner. Our first game is the week we get back from Thanksgiving break, and I can’t wait!


Our Army

With the “Kill Team” in the news, I thought it would be a good idea to write about the US Armed Forces.

In case you have not heard of the “Kill Team“, specifically Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, then here you go. It is a group of US Army soldiers who killed Afghanistan citizens for fun, not just the baddies, innocent people too.

The Armed Forces takes a lot of heat for their actions. They are constantly looked at as being the evil doers in our wars. But is it their fault?

I think not.

Most of the people who join the US Military are joining to serve their country, to protect the people, and to get a pay check. They do not go to foreign countries to kill innocent people or to fight wars that are not meant to be fought.

I was recently having this same argument and the main point that I heard was that the people who are fighting must believe in what they are doing. But I for one am not convinced.

We sitting home in the US see the war as an overall thing, a (fairly) complete picture. But individual people fighting overseas are just doing what they are told to do. Should they be blamed for following orders?

It is our governments fault for putting the soldiers in these positions. The “Kill Team” should face very strict punishment; they should be put in prison for the rest of their lives. They were not following orders, they were killing for fun.

But the soldiers who face criticism for following orders, that is just not fair. The are trying to protect the lives of all the people at home. They put their lives on the line daily for American interests.

It IS wrong that they are in that position, they should not be fighting overseas for pointless reasons. The US government should be held responsible for all the killings that they ordered. They are putting these young people overseas with big guns and small amounts of supervision, they should have to face the consequences.