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The College Experience: Resiliency

Photo: Tegan Dawson

Editor’s note: “The College Experience” is a weekly first-person series about what it’s really like to be a college soccer player. 

Five games into the season now and we are 1-3-1. Not the start we were looking for. But gotta keep moving forward!

We started off playing our year playing back-to-back at Swarthmore College against Alvernia and Arcadia. Both games we came up short. We played better against Arcadia on Sunday, though, than we did Saturday versus Alvernia. Started to closing down quicker, limited our mistakes, and kept the ball a little more.

Last Wednesday we lost a game to Penn State Brandywine at home. After a fluky goal early, we peppered them with opportunities. But unfortunately we fell to 0-3.

On Saturday we traveled to Goucher College in Maryland and picked up a hard-earned first victory. We looked to build on that Wednesday with our second home game against Delaware Valley University. But after a goal in the first half, we conceded a goal against the run of play in the second half. After overtime, it ended in a tie 1-1.

Practices have been fairly light as our season starts to really pick up, playing two to three games a week. Looking forward we travel to Saint Vincent College on Saturday — we need to start scoring more goals and collecting some clean sheets. The effort is all there, just need to be executing more consistently. But I am confident in our side and that good results will come more consistently.

Soccer aside now, I want to talk more about college life. After all, soccer is just a game. No matter how far we go or don’t go this season, I will still be back at Rosemont in the spring continuing to pursue my B.A. in Communications.

College is more than just the classes you attend, though.

As an aspiring sports media professional, I have followed lots of stories about professional athletes and their struggles with mental health — guys like Kevin Love, Josh Gordon, Rob Gronkowski, Dan Carcillo, and Jordan Tootoo. The main lesson I learned from following all of their stories is, in a nutshell, not to let your athletic success or shortcomings define you.  

Don’t get me wrong, in order to have the success you so desire in your sport you need to have a chip on your shoulder. Be upset after losses. Be proud after hard-earned victories. But once it has passed, you have to keep it moving. #OTTNO (On To The Next One) has become a staple of every Ben Simmons Instagram post after a win. People can say what they want about Ben, but if you have watched him consistently then you know his resilience is one of his defining characteristics.

But resilience isn’t just one day acquired. It is built. And for me, it started in college. Especially in my freshman year in the spring semester.

Spring season in college doesn’t start up until April or March. For DIII it’s April, but DI and DII tend to start a little earlier. So after conference play, conference playoffs, and if you’re lucky the NCAA tournament, you have about five to six months before you hit the field again. In my opinion, this isn’t how it should be, and I have read many articles stating that the NCAA’s rules about not being able to practice are hindering the both the U.S. player pool and the quality of professional soccer in America as a whole.

But this five-to-six-month gap doesn’t just hinder the quality of college soccer — it is one of the most challenging times of the year for me. My freshman year after the season was over, I wasn’t as tuned in mentally to my studies, socially I tended to keep to myself, and worst of all, I didn’t take care of my body as well as I should have.

I understand that this is a problem that college freshman everywhere may encounter for a variety of reasons. I luckily have an extroverted personality that allowed me to utilize my peers, teammates, and role models in helping me tackle exactly how I was going to deal with my issues. But lots of young adults don’t have support systems in place or they don’t want to burden someone else with their problems.   

I don’t want to speak on all cases because I am naive to think I know how to help or what to say. But I do know the key to overcoming your issues and dealing with mental health is resilience. You must be resilient.

Refuse to let the laziness, sadness, anxiety, and any other negative feelings weigh you down. Overcome. Live day to day. Progress can be everywhere. Not eating a cookie, touching a soccer ball that day, going to the gym, talking to others about how you are doing and how they are doing. All of these things can help you overcome. Small victories are everywhere.

And if you can program yourself to strive for them than you can start to accomplish bigger goals and be on your way to a happy, healthy college life!  

One Comment

  1. Nice article. Since you mentioned Swarthmore College I thought of mentioning this. Yesterday as a large group of us were hiking in the Delaware Water Gap near the Hackers Falls circa 3hrs from Philly we ran into the Swarthmore soccer team who were running through the forest following an orienteering course that had been set up for them. I was surprised since they must have had a game on Saturday and since it was so far away from their College but then it made me think that this was a great team building exercise. What team building events do you guys do?

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