Ever since I can remember, being a student-athlete at the highest level has been a dream of mine. From being a little girl with big dreams, to the person I am today. I’m living out exactly what I hoped for.
Growing up I was always very competitive, whether it was lacrosse or pumpkin carving at Halloween, (can’t say I always won that but in my eyes I did). This competitiveness is what really grew my love for the game of lacrosse, basketball, and field hockey. Starting sports at such a young age made me into the person I am today and it became a part of me and my everyday life.
What was a day like growing up without a nice competitive game or sport? It was never as fun without it because my love for winning and my hatred towards losing easily surpassed any other feeling. If you’re anything like me, all you are about when you’re young is winning and with that comes confidence. I am proud to say that I was a very confident young girl. I truly believed in myself and that my abilities could take me as far as I wanted. In my head, it was all about winning. With that mindset, I didn’t overthink and I was able to let my natural ability shine through.
Then that little girl who was just playing a game became a girl who started to focus a little bit more on the outside noise. On September 1st, 2019, a women’s lacrosse article was published about me and my class. It showed our rankings and I was the headline of my class. In that moment, I felt more than grateful. I was filled with so much joy. It felt like a once in a lifetime achievement. I mean this was everything I ever dreamt of, right? Yes, but I wish I could have told my younger self that this wasn’t added pressure to live up to, rather this was just recognition for all my hard work over the years and you just had to play like yourself. But at some points in my career, I used this as pressure and in my head I had to constantly play insane to prove my ranking. I was so grateful for this, so why was it pressure? Like I said previously, I was focusing on the outside noise. Why did I feel like I needed to constantly play insane when that’s not logical? I only owe it to myself, my family, and my coaches because we all know how much work and effort I put into the sport of lacrosse. Why did I care what random people thought?
The answer is I shouldn’t and honestly in the end I’m grateful for this experience. My sophomore year of college is when it finally started clicking. All that matters is what I can control, my attitude, my work ethic, my motivation, my discipline, and most importantly the way I support my teammates. My freshman year of college didn’t go as planned. I couldn’t seem to play lacrosse like I used to. So much of my anxiety was getting in the way of my natural abilities. I was fed up with it. I was so done with my brain telling me I wasn’t good enough because that’s a lie. I am good enough. We all are good enough. And at a high-level program like Maryland and now Clemson, it’s going to take mental toughness. That has become my main focus and it has made a world’s difference. All you need is you, your confidence, and your own love and support.
The past few years it became depressing. I couldn’t get past this mental block, But when I was in high school, I was able to play through it. I ended up being pretty successful, but that doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t feel 100% confident in the player I was because I felt like I had to live up to the player I already was. All this building up in my head almost exploded my freshman year. I was away from home, away from the people who believed in me most, and trying to prove myself to new people. And that’s a lot especially when it was all already occurring mentally. I lost a lot of my confidence and that’s what I needed most. Sitting on the bench as a highly ranked player, my anxiety convinced me I wasn’t good. What was everyone going to say or think? WHO CARES. No one knows you and they don’t know what you’re going through. They don’t know your experiences and they don’t see the work you’re putting in day in and day out. This is your journey and your book to write. Don’t let anyone else ruin that. Rely on yourself, your family, your teammates, and your coaches. Believe me, it’ll take you a long way. I’m emphasizing the part where I said to rely on yourself because you will truly become unstoppable when you focus on yourself, be positive, be confident, and love yourself. It’s a lot more enjoyable this way. After that, all of the other pieces will start to fall into place. Believe me, I know it’s not easy. My journey has had a lot of ups and downs and I’m still working towards a great mindset and amazing confidence, but it takes time and every little second of it will be worth it in the end.
I am beyond excited to continue this here at my new home, Clemson. To new beginnings, my teammates, coaches, and of course mom and dad, thank you for believing in me. To Clemson, thank you for taking me in as one of your own. I can’t wait to continue this journey alongside every single one of you. So, my message to all of you would be to embrace the feelings you feel, as it’ll only make you stronger in the end. When it feels like nothing can get better, trust me it will. It just takes a little bit of realization and effort. Your sport may feel like everything to you because trust me 99% of the time lacrosse is my life. It’s what I signed up for and I absolutely love it, but there’s always more to life. When things in your sports feel a little bit rocky or uncertain, there are other things to turn to as life is filled with so many positive things. Turn to that talent no one else knows about. Just because you think people only see you as your sport, you are so much more than that, and believe me everyone else knows it too. This is just a part of life. Believe in yourself. You know how we grow up hearing our parents say, you can do hard things. Well maturing is realizing they are always right. So, believe it and run with it. You all are amazing. My experience has only made me stronger, and in the end, that’s what I’ll need. Not just in lacrosse but in life.