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December 2018: Senior aspires to become physical therapist

Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia

Major: Exercise Science

Why exercise science: I decided to pursue a degree in Exercise Science because throughout high school, it had been my dream to become a Physical Therapist.

What sports did you play growing up? Growing up, my parents forced my participation in several different sports, none of which seemed to be the right fit: dance, gymnastics, tennis, you name it. When I was 5, they signed me up for a t-ball softball league, and the rest was history. I continued to play softball competitively throughout high school, and I also picked up lacrosse in the off seasons. While I loved both sports, my passion was with softball, and I continued my career at a Division III school in Maryland called Salisbury University. I played there for a year and a half and then transferred, and Georgia College became my new home. I considered the possibility of continuing to play softball at GC, but decided that it was time to hang up the cleats for good--not an easy decision to make by any means. 

What lessons did you learn playing sports, while also being a student: 

I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to get invested with such an amazing sport, as it has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I learned how to effectively work with a team, develop leadership skills, handle adversity and overcome challenges, communicate and solve problems, think creatively, and set and achieve goals. The list of skills is endless. Being a student-athlete taught me time management skills, the ability to multi-task, and the importance of developing a strong work ethic. Outside of these skills, I’ve also learned several lessons:

  1. You’re never an expert, there’s always more to learn. Have that desire and passion to keep learning, even when it seems like you’ve mastered a skill.
  2. Hard work pays off. You may not realize this right away, but in the long run you’ll be thankful for your work ethic.
  3. It is important to make sure that your goals are realistic and that your expectations for yourself are not set too high.
  4. Be confident in yourself and your capabilities.
  5. Nobody likes to experience failure, but in reality, you learn more from your failures than you do from your successes. Make sure that you take advantage of this.
  6. Failure is OKAY. There is no such thing as being perfect (this was a hard pill to swallow for someone who was a perfectionist). In some sports, you fail more than you succeed and you’re still considered successful!
  7. Regardless of how much time, effort, and dedication you put into working on the physical mechanics and technicalities of a sport, you will not be successful in reaching your goals if you don’t have the right mindset. Your brain is a powerful thing.

What advice do you give student-athletes: 

These lessons have led me to explore the field of sport psychology, as they are all important when it comes to optimizing performance. When it comes to sports, the physical aspect of performance is typically prioritized while the mental aspect is often overlooked. The majority of these lessons are not directly related to improving your physical abilities, but developing thought processes, dealing with internal struggles, and overcoming challenges associated with sport performance, all of which is primarily mental.

If I could give any advice to student-athletes starting out their collegiate careers it would be this:

  1. It’s called being a “student-athlete” for a reason. While being an athlete is very important, always remember that you’re in school to get your degree, and being an athlete is an additional privilege.
  2. The transition into college can be overwhelming, especially if you’re away from home, whether it be out of state or across the country. It’s totally normal to be homesick, but you will adjust soon. You’ve got a group of teammates who will soon become your support system.
  3. Always practice like you’re fighting for your spot on the team. Don’t be complacent with where you’re at. There’s always room for improvement.
  4. Your four years will FLY by. Practice and play like it’s your last game. You never know when that day could be, and it could be sooner than you anticipate.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be eager to learn. It is a quality that coaches admire.
  6. Take care of yourself! Make sure you’re fueling your body with the right foods and getting enough sleep. If you’re not doing these things, you’re not getting the most out of the hard work that you’re putting in during workouts and practices.

What are your plans after college:  After graduation, my plans are to continue working for Oxford College of Emory University’s Center for Healthful Living. I’m currently finishing up my internship here and I am so thankful that I will have the opportunity to finish out the remainder of the school year with them! I’m currently in the process of applying to graduate school programs in sport/sport and exercise/sport, exercise and performance psychology and am hopeful that I get accepted into a program to start in August of 2019.

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