As a junior on the volleyball team, I wanted to prove to my new coach that I had all the qualities of a starting player. I had been a starter during my first and second years at Smith, but now I knew that I had to prove myself again. I never expected that the relationship with the new coach would present challenges I hadn't experienced before.
Our first home game, I sat on the sidelines. Our second game, I sat on the sidelines. On occasion I was substituted in for a teammate to serve. The new coach told me I was working hard and that I made it apparent every day, but she told me I needed to make improvements. I understood that some teammates were better than me and that I had to accept it, but it was hard to suddenly have no sense of when I would play. I sat on the bench, watching from afar. I felt disconnected and left behind. I wondered about quitting volleyball, but was afraid that by quitting, I'd be hurting the feelings of team members. At the same time I was upset because it felt like my coach didn't believe in me. I felt worthless, as if all the dedication I was putting into this sport was not reflected back to me.
Meanwhile, I thought about swimming. I’d always been on the swim team at Smith, but had prioritized volleyball, which meant beginning the swim season two months late. I wondered what it would be like to start at the beginning of the swim season. By starting with the team, I could potentially decrease my time in freestyle events.
After speaking to friends, family, and even my swim coach, I decided that it's okay to fall out of love and find another passion in life, and I quit volleyball to devote myself to swimming. Looking back at this decision five months later, having swam best times in my freestyle events, I am proud to have left volleyball to pursue another sport in which I can be myself and grow with my team. My swim coach has given me everything I've ever wanted in a coach: someone who believes in all of his swimmers, and, most importantly, he rewarded me with an opportunity to prove myself, which is something I was never given as a member of the volleyball team. He sees my potential and is a continuing motivator for me and my teammates in and out of the pool. In welcoming swimming with open arms, I was able to swim with better technique and build upon previous friendships. Also, when I see members of my volleyball team they still treat me like a teammate.
I've proven to myself that I am capable of handling difficult situations. I learned to make decisions for my own well-being and I feel confident about making challenging decisions in the future. In being a team member I made more salient why it is meaningful and of value to be a part of a group. Not only do I have friendships that will last a lifetime but we share a bond that is connected with our memories from our coach and all of our successes. The weekend of Friday, February 15, 2013 the swim team and I traveled to MIT to compete in our weekend-long conference championships. I am so proud and impressed with my team and can say with confidence that I made the best decision; I dropped 1 second in the 50 freestyle, nearly 3.5 seconds in the 100 free and 12 seconds in the 200 free--all lifetime best times. Next season three teammates and myself have set a goal for ourselves to break the Smith College record for the 800 freestyle relay. I'm so excited to rise to the occasion and make this goal a reality and I'm also thrilled to lead our team as captain!