By NATASHA RAI, junior
Being an athlete is difficult, but being a multi-sport athlete is even tougher. Most athletes who only participate in one sport often complain about the hardships of staying several hours after school for practices and matches during the season. For a multi-sport athlete like me, the late nights and sore muscles have become a daily part of my life. During the school day, I am usually only half-conscious due to my lack of sleep, so my conversations are often a combination of a snore and an incoherent mumble. After school, I constantly work through all the chaos of the season, whether it be tryouts or the GMCs. In the time between each season, I get pestered with the same questions: Why would you take on all of this work every season? Aren’t you tired of playing sports every day? To save myself from future reiterations, here is my answer.
For starters, playing all these sports ensures that I never get bored… actually, it ensures that I do not have time to be bored. When I am not knocked out during hour-long bus rides to and from games (sleeping with one eye open to watch out for anyone taking pictures, of course), I am icing and applying Biofreeze to every part of my body. After training, which involves sprinting and stretching for three hours, I end up becoming a couch potato at home, too sore to budge and start my work. And nothing exhausts me more than coming back home to a gargantuan pile of homework after a tough or disappointing game. All the while, the rest of my family struggles to Febreeze every single surface I have made contact with. If it .was raining during practice, my house further transforms into a biohazard facility—I can’t even bother trying to step inside without wiping down my shoes and changing into new clothes.
This year is special because the new turf has at least lessened the amount of mud and grass stains on my uniform. Every year, though, I look forward to my birthday, mostly because of all the new athletic gear I get. I’ve received athletic pants of every brand, compression shorts of every size, and UnderArmour for every temperature. Throughout the years, I’ve accumulated a rainbow spectrum of pre-wrap, worthy of putting on Instagram. While traditional students’ closets are filled with crop tops and blouses from Forever 21, mine is filled with old jerseys with sports camp logos or clever Nike slogans. Instead of Toms or sandals, I have an army of slides and sneakers stacked up on the floor. My dream part-time job is now to work at Sport’s Authority or Dick’s Sporting Goods, because who needs coupons when I can get an employee discount? Believe it or not, I visit these stores more than I visit Menlo Park Mall, and my Cyber Mondays are spent checking out deals on new pairs of cleats.
Besides buying sports gear, the rest of my shopping schedule is filled with wandering around the snack aisles of grocery chain stores. My voracious appetite has become my prized possession, second only to my team awards. I’ve tried every type of Special K granola bar available in the U.S. and I’m first in line for every new flavor of Gatorade, even though the original lemon-lime flavor will always be my favorite.
My fellow athletes bring their own snacks to the pre-practice feast, and every day is a potluck of energy bars and fruits. Despite all these healthy snacks, I always end a practice or a game craving the greasiest burger possible with a large order of fries. Thankfully, I don’t have license to succumb to these insane cravings because I know I’d be kicked off the team after my third Big Mac.
As a multi-sport athlete, my life always revolves around my team. Samantha Dzema (10), a soccer, basketball, and lacrosse player, said, “When I was a freshman, [playing] sports was the only way I met people. It took up all my time, but all of the friendships and memories I gained made it all worth it.” My sports families include the coaches and trainers as well. I never would have thought that I would have a better bond with the school trainer than I have with some of my teachers, and despite my inability to remember more than five math formulas at a time, I have essentially memorized the injury chart inside the trainer’s office. I have also stared holes into the webpage of NJ High School Sports, which is now my laptop’s home page. Every time I log onto my computer after practice, it reminds me that I just spent over an hour of my life chasing a ball.
Still, all joking aside, even if I do not enjoy every hour that I spend at practice, I always value the feeling of achievement during team pictures and team championships. Every stare I get as I attempt to stuff my athletic bag inside my locker and every mile I run in the rain becomes worth it when I hear my name on the announcements or when I jog across the track and my classmates cheer (a little half-heartedly) during the pep rally.