There is certain bittersweet feeling that is reserved solely for a specific type of person: an athlete in her or his last year of competition. To those that have experienced this milestone in their athletic careers, no explanation is really necessary, and to those who have not, no explanation would be possible.
I sensed this feeling creeping up on me the second I stepped foot back on campus. Walking into Patten Gymnasium for the "last" first time this year solidified my fear that my time at where I can honestly claim to be the Best Place in the World is coming to a close.
Like any athlete, I knew this year would come, but I never really thought it would be here. And like any athlete, I stepped back into the gym with my sights set on making it the best year yet. What athlete doesn't want to go out in a blaze of glory.
Little did I know that I would be doing something with my senior season that I had not once experienced in all 15 years of my athletic career- I would be watching at least part of it from the sidelines.
Injuries are a tricky thing. You spend countless hours as an athlete training your body to do exactly what you want it to do and then all of a sudden you have no say in the matter. Injuries can bring out the best in an athlete and they can certainly bring out the worst. Most importantly, injuries can bring into focus lessons that were maybe never fully learned.
The collegiate sport of fencing is scored much like tennis or wrestling whereby individual victories come together to result in a win for the team. Thus, fencers are always caught in a certain limbo, unsure of whether they are competing for themselves or for a greater team good. After three years of competing alongside a spectacular team, I thought I had finally gotten the whole "teamwork" thing down. Little did I know that by being taken completely out of the game, I'd learn what it meant to dedicate yourself to a group of people; to make their hopes and dreams your priority. I'd finally understood what it meant to want the best for your team, to want the wins, the glory and the happiness for your team, even if it meant watching it from the side of the strip.
With all of this in mind, I'd like to dedicate my last first blog post to the 24 other girls I'll be sharing my last season with. But more specifically, to my foil squad and an amazingly impressive group of freshman that have more than risen to the occasion. I once came across a quote that stuck with me; "The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will."
My last season ever will surpass any hopes I had for it if we can make your first season ever completely legendary. Good luck to the girls as they open up the season this weekend in California, and Go 'Cats!