Sarah Christian Summer Blog No. 1

UABSPORTS.COM Sarah Christian
UABSPORTS.COM
Sarah Christian
UABSPORTS.COM

July 11, 2014

Being an NCAA Division I athlete is an amazing opportunity. Representing a university with the use of my athletic abilities is awesome, and I am extremely aware of all the people who would die to be in my shoes. I am so grateful that I am able to play at this level and all the opportunities it has afforded me, but don't get me wrong, it has been a tough road to get here. I honestly could not imagine being at any other university other than East Carolina, and being a part of Pirate Nation is being a part of something greater than any sport, and that has been such a reward.

The best part of being able to play at this level is the people I have met along the way. I really enjoyed high school and had a good amount of friends, but I still felt like I never really fit in. That was until I came to college and met the girls on my team. We all come from extremely different backgrounds and states, with girls coming as far as Hawai’i and California. However, we all had one major thing in common, and that was that our whole lives had been consumed by softball. And while to some that may not seem like a big deal, to me it was everything to meet people who finally understood me. In high school, I was always gone on the weekends at a tournament or involved in some sort of softball game or event, so I couldn't go to certain parties or hangouts with my friends. That always created a barrier with friends because I felt as if I was misunderstood. However, when I went to college, I became friends with a group of girls who understood exactly what my childhood was like because they could relate.

I have never particularly been a shy person, and I have always been an open book for the most part, but I was nervous about meeting my teammates for the first time my freshman year. I didn't know what to expect or if I would be accepted. Since I joined this team, I have never felt more accepted in my life. Despite each and every one of our differences, we somehow accepted each other exactly as we were. I don't know if every team is like that, but I am fortunate enough to be a part of one that is, and that has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I have never had a sister before, but being a part of this team I finally feel like I have sisters. We fight and bicker, and sometimes we want to kill each other, but there is the deep level of love and respect for each other that goes beyond friendships. When you spend every day with each other and go through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, you are bound to be attached. Each girl on my team has a story that has made them the way they are, and by learning each of their stories, my respect for them only grows.

Whether I have wanted it or not, being a Division I athlete has changed me and my heart. In some ways it has been a positive change, and in some ways, not so positive. During my freshman year, I came into ECU very physically prepared for what was to come. I have always been someone who is a hard worker, I got myself into great physical condition, and I was ready to play ball at this level. However, emotionally, I was far from prepared for the toll this sport would take on me. There were a lot of things that a naive 18-year-old had not prepared herself for, and that was the harsh reality of what it was like to be treated based on your ability to throw a ball. How well you could play would be a big factor in your likability, and that was a hard pill to swallow. For the first time in my life, I was put in a situation where I was at a complete loss of control.


 

 

For most people when they enter college, they experience their first real dose of freedom, but for a student-athlete, your freedom is long gone. Your days are now planned to down to every minute, and you are expected to perform 24 hours each day. Even when you aren't at the field, you are thinking about it, and sooner or later it begins to consume you. My freshman year, I had to pitch a lot more than I ever anticipated, and got knocked around a lot. Having the pressure of performing at a high level, where everyone is counting on you and if you don't perform you are letting a ton of people down, can be a lot of pressure. It gave me a lot of anxiety. However, I am so much tougher than I ever thought I could be. I cannot be knocked down like I used to be so easily before.

As the years have progressed, I have come to realize many things about Division I athletics, and the main one is that it is all about winning – as it should be. Winning is what we are out there to do, and I am always going to do my best to put my team in a position to win. My softball ability may be defined by wins and losses, but I am so much more than that, and so are my teammates. We have relationships, school, family, faith and many other things going on in our lives that make us who we are. Many people who watch the sport from an outside perspective don't know about the blood sweat and tears it took to just get on that field. Every day we must plan the day revolving around our sport, having to carefully consider softball before we take any action, which as a 21-year-old, is an exhausting thing to do. With everything going on in our lives, we somehow go out there every day and do our best, which is pretty incredible to me.

With the ups and downs that playing this sport has brought me, I wouldn't change a thing. I have met amazing people, gotten to see awesome places, and learned more about myself then I could ever imagine. And boy have I also made big mistakes, but they all made me who I am. I am so grateful for the gift that God has given me, and even though it has been far from an easy ride, it’s not over yet. I hope my senior year is just as much of a blessing that these past three years have been to me. I know it will not be easy, but I wouldn't take this experience back for the world.

And to my teammates: Thanks for being the sister I never had. You have all taught me more about life than I could ever imagine. I hope I have shaped your lives as much as you have shaped mine.

-Sarah Christian