My freshman year (it seems like ages ago) I came into school thinking I was totally ready for the "pre-season experience." Ya know run a couple sprints, do a couple drills, and sweat a little bit then go shower and watch Shawn Johnson compete in the Olympics.
Then I met -- well heard -- our trainer Nick.
It was a beautiful August morning, that day in 2008. Mandi (my roommate) and I were talking, her bow in her hair bouncing as we walked over to Dixon field, water bottles, field hockey sticks and sneakers in hand. I couldn't even see the field and I hear... "Get on the FUCKING LINE."
I went to Catholic School for like, my entire life. We never really got yelled at and when we did we certainly did NOT tie in expletives. So this was a shock right off the bat to me. We get to the field and I vividly remember how massive the field felt, and the girls' soccer team was running it up, down, sideways, and wicked fast.
"YOU HAVE 60 SECONDS, TO HIT THIS LINE 12 TIMES." My first thought -- did I just hear the number 12 and running in the same sentence? Is this real life?
Welcome to hell Liz, we've been waiting.
Fifty six seconds go by and I watch every soccer team player make it across the line, and then look like they are going to die. Nick comes jogging over to us, flashes and award winning smile and says "Hey there, ladies." Allie, Shannon and Desiree all wave, wink, and joke around with him, and I am immediately put at ease thinking he is going to go easier on us.
We get on the line, do the active dynamic warm-up and I'm like alright, this isn't so bad, and on the bright side we only have an hour and a half left! We can't possibly run for that long. Silly 18 year old Liz, we will.
The next hour and a half consisted of two beep tests, 10 mad dog 20 20's, one Indian run, and drills. Finally Nick says, "For the last thing all we are going to do is a 300 yard shuttle, make it under time and we don't have to do them again, but if you suck we will keep running." We missed time, once, twice -- and continued to miss time 14 times over.
Finally by the grace of some athletic god Nick (disgustedly) let us go. I couldn't even wrap my head around how much we had just ran, and how much more was still coming my way in the next two sessions.
I get back to my hot-as-balls room in Woodcrest, put down my stuff and tell Mandi that I'm going to the bathroom, then to call my dad and I'll be back.
Well, I couldn't even make it to the bathroom my legs hurt so much, so I sat in the hallway, and called my dad.
"HEY LIZZIE, How'd your first day go?" I hear cheerily from the other end of the phone.
I don't quite know what he heard, but it probably wasn't much because I was sobbing like someone had just shot my cat, right in front of me.
I just kept begging my dad to pick me up and take me home and I probably even bribed him with like a Coke Zero or York peppermint patty (big things for a college kid). All he said to me is "You're a trooper, just suck it up."
To this day, I am eternally grateful to my dad for not coming to get me like a lot of helicopter parents would have. In reality that was the hardest week that I was going to have to endure for my entire four years in college.
Those 14 300's that we did my very first day instilled an aggressive feeling that I hope I never loose. That first pre-season taught me to be a fighter, and not to just live through this next chapter of my life, but to tackle it.
For you freshman (and upperclassman too) out there, my piece of advice is this: don't quit, don't leave, don't abandon it, embrace the sexy Australian voice that is known as the beep test, run every 300 till you feel like your legs are going to fall off. Do it for the people who don't have anyone pushing them anymore because I know about 60 people off the top of my head that would kill to be in your shoes (myself included).
I have so many friends that were talented athletes and made every excuse in the book to skip out of the experience... just wanted to live up college, etc. I'm calling them out because I know a lot of them now wish (even if it isn't out loud) they could do it over again.
When that week is done, and you finally get handed that uniform, you'll feel an enormous sense of pride and achievement, and it's invigorating.
Every year, right around this time you'll get a wave of panic, start running your pants off, and shudder every time you head the words "beep" and "test" #studentathleteproblems. But just remember that feeling that you get when you have your uniform.
It's like getting your own personal team USA jersey.
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