Dreams & Keeping on Keepin' On

November 1, 2011
By , Westphalia, MI
“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true” --Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenes

It came to me in elementary school. I was going to be a college gymnast with a full-ride scholarship. I was hungry to be the first in my area to accomplish this goal. I began competitive gymnastics, and in no time, the daily grind hit with a sting; with the 25 weekly practice hours, the travel requirements, and the gym politics associated with the sport. I kept at it, and it appeared I was on course to achieve my dream. However, with time, I grew a good five inches over most of my teammates, and I faced a hefty overuse injury. With a heavy heart, I admitted that gymnastics wasn’t the right fit for me anymore. Luckily, this realization came on the day before track season started. I could keep pursuing my dream of being a collegiate athlete by just shifting the dream in another direction: to the track. With optimism, I started pole vaulting. I knew I was athletic enough to excel, and I could train right in my hometown without nearly as many training hours!
Again, things weren’t as easy as I’d hoped for them to be. Apparently, pole vault is one of the most difficult feats in sports (#3, according to USA Today, next to hitting a Major League pitch and race car driving). To succeed in my new venture, I would need to train...a lot. And now in high school, I had to do so with a new set of pressures, including academic, social, and self-induced pressures. As I am sure is common among many aspiring athletes, there were several times throughout my athletic career when I asked myself, “Is this all worth it?”
Now, as I’m being recruited as a prospective student-athlete, I can see how every obstacle, every person who had either helped or hurt me, every kick to the shin life gave me, even each moment of doubt was necessary for me to ultimately reach my destination. The process of starting, following through, and achieving a long-term dream has brought me so much more than I could have expected. This has truly been a journey of learning how to use my freedoms, blessings and opportunities as tools to achieve my dreams, and how to utilize my setbacks as outlets for growth. This knowledge will be so valuable in my future endeavors, in sports, academia, the workplace, and life in general.
I believe everything I’ve learned about commitment, adversity, and having belief in myself will allow me to see my dreams through, while encouraging those of my peers. College will give me the perfect atmosphere to embark this new journey. I plan to endure through every change, hour of hard work, and disappointment that comes along with the ride-because though dreams might not always be easy to attain, they will always will be worth the try.

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