Four Years

By Taylor Jo Gillen, Contributor | 

Four years, 48 months, 208 weeks, 1,460 days.

Whichever way you see it, the numbers are deceiving.

There you are, your first day of freshman year, at your first practice, and all you can think about is everything that you want to achieve.

You set a goal for how many seconds you wish to shave off your time, how many points you want to get in basketball, how many kills you want to make in volleyball, how many assists you want to contribute in soccer…Whatever it is, this is just the first page in a four chapter novel that will hold your athletic history.

Your first season comes to an end, and although you may not have accomplished everything that you had wanted to, you know that you have three more years to improve. So you work, and you practice, and you get those extra gym sessions in to get closer to and hit your targets for the proceeding season.

The second season ends, finding that your speed has increased, you’ve gotten more minutes, and your playing statistics have improved. But yet there is still so much more you strive to do, yet that’s all right because you still have two more years to go.

Work, practice, gym, repeat.

Another one bites the dust, and season three kicks the bucket as it is being placed under your building belt. Much better, but still not good enough. There is fire in your eyes, and the only way to extinguish it is to douse it in personal triumph. With one more season left, your last season will be your best one yet.

And then it hits you.

One.

The echo of it as it rolls off your tongue sends shivers down your spine. Just one more left.

One more shot at getting it perfect. One more chance to prevail in your mental and physical prosperities set from day one. Ironically, however, this time around the sound of “one” seems more like a heavy burden of the receding sand in an hourglass rather than an open door of endless opportunities.

Injuries may have plagued you before, but there is no time left in your schedule to fit these in. Your level of satisfaction has yet to be reached, and although every true athlete knows it never will, you wish nothing more than to at least dip your toes in the water. You will do anything and everything possible if it means leaving with no lingering regrets, encompassed by “what if’s.”

The five stages of grief are an inevitable rollercoaster of emotions to ride before finally getting off with stability in the end.

  1. How could your short-lived career of your beloved sport be coming to an end? No, it has not been four years. There must be some way that you’re trapped in a daydream, and soon you’ll snap back to reality at your first day of practice once again.
  2. Why couldn’t you have already done everything you wanted to from you first year? If you did, you wouldn’t be walking on eggshells and under as much scrutiny and pressure as you are now. Those shots you could’ve made, those seconds faster you could’ve run…You didn’t work hard enough, you didn’t fight for it hard enough.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, if youend up staying in school an extra year, you could convince the school that you missed a year of play. Hopefully this’ll buy you enough extra time to perfect your game plan.
  4. When else will you ever receive this public of recognition for your feats than you do now? Yes, you understand there are side leagues to offer your efforts to off-season, but they’re not the same. Time scares you, and although crying may not make everything better, it’s the only form of solace that brings you temporary comfort when these pessimistic thoughts overcome you.
  5. This is it. There is nothing you could do at this point to stop time, and you sure as hell know that you wouldn’t change what you’ve done for anything. The best thing you could do would be to fight with every fiber of your being in every game or every meet, as if it would be your last one. Your last season is finally here, and you have never been more prepared in your life for it.

So here’s to the incoming freshman who will pave the way for the future of CCNY, to the sophomores who will take every mistake they made with a grain of salt, to the juniors who will truly begin to show their antiquity and maturity in the game, and finally, to the seniors who will leave it all out on the line to create a legacy to close out the last chapter in their athletics book.

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