Finding myself between academics and athletics
In high school, I often dreamt of what it would be like to be a student with no commitments to practice every day or long tournaments on the weekends. I imagined the extracurricular clubs I could join and the free time I would have.
I had always been a student-athlete. I didn’t regret it, but I wanted to know what it would feel like if I wasn’t. So, I found a college with a never-ending list of groups and clubs I could join and I decided that that place (Augustana College) would be my perfect fit.
I never, ever, thought I’d be a college athlete. Especially since I had just picked a school with endless opportunities of clubs and groups to join instead.
But, a couple weeks before my freshman year of college, I decided that golf was too much a part of me to let it go. I found myself questioning the idea of “free time”, and if I really wanted to be in a new environment without a team.
After having the summer to think it over, I decided to call the head coach of the women’s golf team with the number I found online and see if he would let me tryout.
Yes, I understand that was a bold move. But I was more afraid of what my life would be without playing golf.
Fortunately, it worked out well for me. I golfed my freshman year as a walk on. I played a great season where I held the fourth spot consistently, which means my score counted for the team. I was proud of myself, because I knew this was a big accomplishment for a freshman.
I enjoyed our daily practices, team dinners and weekend tournaments. But, I struggled to enjoy the late nights driving home from practices, missed classes to leave for tournaments, and the free time I didn’t have compared to the people who lived on my floor.
I saw the other residents on my floor creating relationships through long afternoons of homework, late nights of Netflix and tailgates at the weekend football games. Seeing this, I felt like I was excluded from those around me.
I didn’t join other clubs or make friends with anyone other than my teammates. I wasn’t happy. So, I quit playing golf.
I felt like I didn’t know what life was without sports and I didn’t want to limit myself anymore. If college was supposed to be about finding out who I am, why was I doing what I had always done — academics and athletics?
I stayed in touch with my teammates and played recreationally, but I explored new possibilities and opportunities.
I know it's cliché, but in a sense, I found myself. I decided to take on a service position for my sorority which pushed me to run for Greek Council service chair. Through these experiences, I discovered that I have a true passion for community service and that I thrive in leadership roles.
Quitting golf allowed me to experience things that I felt like I couldn’t do if I gave my all to my sport. I know quitting isn't for everyone, but it was the right thing for me.
I was able to study abroad, take on more leadership roles, and finish my first internship. Could I have done all of these things while still being on the golf team? Maybe. But taking two years off allowed me to gain those unique experiences of exploring Italy, completing an internship, and being service chair.
Then ironically, about three years after I made my first phone call to the women’s golf coach, I found myself doing it again. But, I was lucky. I had a coach who gave me a second opportunity. I was back playing golf for Augustana College.
I was back doing something I had always loved at a school I loved, but this time I knew who I was and what I could balance.
I know that I missed out on team memories and golf experiences during my sabbatical from sports, but I took advantage of other opportunities. And in the end, I found myself back where I started. Playing golf.
My journey isn’t common for college athletes, but I don’t regret one second of it.
Chelsea Meyer is a senior from Roscoe, IL. She is double majoring in Communication Studies and Multimedia Journalism & Mass Communication while on the Pre-Law track.
On campus she's involved with Greek Council as the service chair, a member of the Delta Chi Theta Sorority, and a member of the Women’s Golf Team.