By Shailey Klein
I’m not here to write another article about the Coronavirus. You’ve probably read enough of those and heard enough on the news. Yes, it is a tragedy and nobody saw this coming. I’m here to write about how it’s impacted my life and many other athletes all over the world.
Sports have taught me so many valuable life lessons. It gives me something to push toward, shows me how hard work pays off, allows me to relieve stress and take my mind off of everything going on around me. When I step on the lacrosse field or the volleyball court, nothing else matters. It’s time to compete. It’s time to improve. It’s time to push my teammates.
Tying up the laces on my cleats or pulling up my kneepads for practice will never be taken for granted again. Little did I know Wednesday, March 11 would be the last time I would pull my ponytail through my helmet for practice. Little did I know Tuesday, March 10 would be the last time I would take the field alongside my teammates to play a game this season. I was complaining about the rough field conditions that day when we played against Gainesville High School in lacrosse. Looking back, that was so incredibly minor. I didn’t know those would be the last goals I would score, the last assists I would have, and the last ground balls I would pick up. If I could go back, I’d appreciate the time I had on the field so much more.
Never in a million years would any athlete imagine that something could snatch our foundations out from under us. Sports have always been constant in my life. I’m always competing, always moving. Change is always happening in life: changes at school, relationships with people, changes within your family. But, sports are the one thing that we always had to fall back on. No matter how rough a day at school, I still had practice to lift me back up. Sports have always been an outlet for me that has kept me grounded.
Nothing can fill the gap of sports in my life. However, this abrupt halt has given me the opportunity to appreciate everything it has given me. I live a fast-paced life, going 100 mph, and most of the time I don’t take enough time to step back and be thankful for everything I’m blessed with.
In attempts to fill this gap, the hardest part has been not being able to compete. I’ve settled for frequent match-ups playing Madden with my brother and card games with my family. I’ve been staying active by constantly being outside: swimming, running, walking, anything to keep me moving. As a volleyball setter, I’ve taken advantage of this off period to perfect my hands, getting hundreds of repetitions setting against a wall every day. From small quick sets to improving my long, shoot sets, I can continue to do what I love given the current circumstances. It also gives me hope that we’re going to make it through this and come out of this stronger than ever next volleyball season.
With athletes all over the world stepping back and acknowledging how much sports have given them, I think this is going to result in an even more significant after-effect. I pray every day for some sort of cure to wake us all up from this nightmare. When that day comes, I’m beyond excited to see everyone come together and unite as one. In the world of sports, the stands will be packed with every game sold out, everyone will be supporting their friends on the field, athletes will be playing with more intensity than ever before, and teammates will appreciate the celebratory high fives after a goal or the tight embrace after a beautiful pass, set, and kill sequence. We’ll appreciate the extra sprints after practice for not communicating. We won’t complain about the court burns cutting through our skin, we’ll welcome them. Everyone will push 10 times harder than they ever did in practice, knowing how easily it could be their last. We’ll all lay everything out on the field because any moment could be your last game with your teammates. I know for a fact that only good can come out of this situation. It’s a dark time now, but the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter than any other light the sports world has seen.