Last week I wrote about developing character through athletic competition, and several of our Greenhill coaches shared the qualities of character that they emphasize in their programs. Today we hear reflections from the athletes. Two senior captains and a former athlete out in “the real world” think back to the lessons of character imparted by their participation in athletics.
Patience is a character trait that I’ve learned from competing in Greenhill sports. Several times in practice and in competition, I’ve felt frustrated about not running or swimming as fast as I expect of myself. When I have bad or sub-par performances, I can be so hard on myself so that it negatively affects the whole practice or the other events I have for the day. To pick myself up, I remind myself that I have to be patient and that success comes with time. One of my favorite analogies, told to me by a college coach, is that I have to be the itsy bitsy spider; every day I just keep climbing up that water spout.
-Chelsey Sveinsson ‘11, cross country and track and field, letter of intent signed with Stanford University
Playing sports for Greenhill has taught me more about character than any classroom lecture, class, teacher, speech, or book. In Middle School and freshman year, I was a three sport athlete. I played field hockey, soccer and lacrosse. Starting in my sophomore year, I chose to focus on soccer, and that was the best thing I could have done. In my four years playing varsity soccer, I learned some of the most valuable lessons ever. As a freshman, I was one of three very good goalkeepers. From playing and training with the other keepers, I learned how to push myself, prove myself, and to work my hardest in order to gain playing time. I truly looked up to the seniors that year and knew that I wanted to someday be like them and play college soccer. My sophomore year was the year we won SPC. That season truly tested me and taught me how to perform under pressure, a lesson that I still use today in soccer, school, and throughout my life. As a junior and senior, I truly learned how to lead. I would not be able to call myself a leader if not for the help of Coach Ashley, my team, and the examples of my older teammates. The memories, friends, lessons, trials, tears, laughs, and triumphs are the best part of my high school years. I truly appreciate all that my coaches did for me and all that I learned while playing Greenhill soccer. The intangible, priceless value of playing for my school will be with me for the rest of my life.
-Holly Reilly ‘11, soccer, letter of intent signed with Furman University
When I look back on my athletic career, I don’t remember the individual matches won or lost or the practices I pushed through. I do remember that athletics taught me focus and mental toughness. Learning these skills and reinforcing them at a young age will make you a better person, employee, and friend. Don’t dwell on the last point or play or race; instead, think about how you can be a better teammate or athlete or person by consistently doing what’s hard, and you will go a long way in the future.
-Carrie Palmer ’06, tennis, Washington College ’10
It is clear that the character building goals of our coaches and the lessons learned by the athletes are aligned. The ability to generalize those lessons to other endeavors outside athletics is also a skill. Opportunities for real world application are frequent. For those of you on the journey, it is gratifying to know that the payoff at the end is so profound.