Verbatim: A lesson from sports: Hard work can be its own reward

Posted: Monday, February 21, 2011

I've never really been a star athlete, I don't win blue ribbons, and my name is never in the sports section in the paper. To be honest, my athletic skills run just this side of mediocre.

I can still remember the week I got cut from the Soldotna Middle School soccer team for the second year in a row. I had spent the week in painful anticipation; I was so excited to have a second chance of success, to wear those butt-ugly maroon socks and finally get to play. After skiing the year before, I imagined myself at least marginally more likely to succeed. Add to that the extreme mental pleading and promising that I did every night before bed -- "Please let me make the team, I promise to fold the correct color of socks together for the rest of my life .. etc." -- there were no farfetched dreams of first string or player of the year, just a desperate urge for a solid spot on the team.

All I can say is that this was all before tryouts. When the long-awaited day arrived I'll admit to anyone that it wasn't pretty. I have never been known for my coordination and this unfortunate clumsiness showed itself when I managed to trip over both my own feet and the ball; add to that my horrendous running skill and the phrase "blood, sweat and tears" truly begins to take effect.

Needless to say, I wasn't all that surprised when I got the call two days later; the usual kiss-off that you get from every coach who is trying to politely say thanks but no thanks. I don't blame him, I know why I didn't make the team, but it didn't make it any easier to take.

This lead me to a difficult conclusion: I wasn't going to be great at everything I did, maybe not even good, but it didn't mean I couldn't try. With this in mind I joined three high school sports. I continued skiing, swam, and played soccer.

Now, this isn't one of those inspirational essays designed to get unmotivated students off the couch, this is life. I have never, and never will become number one, and weirdly enough, I'm OK with that. What is important is that I didn't give up. After the initial moment of, "Darn, I suck," I stood up, dusted myself off and jumped back in.

Without the help of god, good connections, or (sorry Dad) awesome genetics, I managed to fight my way though.

So no, I've never really been a star athlete, I don't win blue ribbons, and my name is never in the sports section in the paper, but after three years of hard work and a lot of sweat I now play three varsity sports and will be captain for the 2011 swim team.

Don't want me on your soccer team? That's OK, because the truth is, I'm doing alright where I am.

This column is the opinion of Katie Clonan, a junior at Skyview High School.

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