Making the Team: The Struggles and Triumphs of Athletic Transitions
Everyone loves a good sports story -- from comeback kid to child prodigy, most stories tend to have happy endings. However, one athletic story that never seems to be discussed is a military kid’s athletic career - and the highs and lows that come with it. The reason why these experiences seem to be so rare is that most kids don’t stay in one place long enough to tell the tale. Considering the fact that I've been a military kid for my whole life, there are plenty of sports stories to share. Time after time, the constant problem I face due to the military lifestyle is having to change teams, specifically softball and more recently, ice hockey.
Tryouts are like the Olympics. Your whole family comes; there are a lot of people with clipboards; and the rest of the competitors are out for blood. Okay well, maybe not like the Olympics. In all honesty, it isn't the actual tryout that makes it difficult to get on a team, because over the years I have learned to get past the nerves of that first impression. The harder part is fitting in with the other players who have spent seasons upon seasons building up their relationships. I honestly think it's so contradictory how the dynamic can change between players by the mere addition of a teammate.
In my younger years, I never realized how much politics can play a role in sports. Politics meaning previous connections that allow for playing time, favoring certain players over others, and even complacent attitudes when it comes to coaching others. It can be subtle, but many players seem to be one step ahead because they have been with the organization longer. Thankfully, as I get older, I have realized there are ways to combat the preconceived notion that all teams will play into politics. By this I mean as long as you do your best, play with your heart, and strive to get better, there is bound to be a coach or a teammate who notices your drive.
With that being said, even though there are cases where military life restrains certain aspects of your sport, it also provides more opportunities that will be beneficial in the long run. Although I wasn’t entirely thankful for it in the past, moving has allowed me to expand my network of athletic resources. Whether it’s teammates, coaches, or overall experiences, they all have shaped me into the player I am today. I have gleaned knowledge from different playing styles, learned new skills from different programs, and have made lifelong friends. From practices year-round in Florida to participating in the Little League regional tournament in Maine, and even learning a new position for Varsity high school softball in Pennsylvania -- all encounters have changed me for the better.
Even during the trying moments, there is always something to attain. The point is, being a military brat has its difficulties, but I have discovered a lot about myself and the world around me through many challenges. From the plethora of teams I have been on, I have always had something meaningful to take away from each involvement and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.