Failure can be the hardest lesson for incoming freshman

As a result of the developmental and experience differences between middle schoolers and high schoolers, it’s common for incoming freshmen to be discouraged at their lack of progress. Sometimes, all it takes is an extra push.


The Couch Critic

Due to the comparative ease of middle school sports, it’s typical to walk in with lofty expectations for your athletic career as a freshman.
The reality is, things didn’t turn out so easily for me early on, but the lessons I learned and experiences I got propelled me.
For me, eighth grade track was a breeze. Long jump? Undefeated. Hurdles? Undefeated. 400m? Undefeated. But when you run in middle school, you face boys. In high school you face young men.
I came in my freshman year believing that I’d make states as a freshman after being the MVP of Indian Crest track. Many others come into high school certain they’d be able to make the team or even start.
When we fall short of these goals, it can feel like the entire season was a let down. In my first race I tripped over a hurdle and fell. My initial reaction was frustration, demotivation and a big dose of humiliation.
For months I tried to stay away from the high hurdles. I was willing to do almost anything else; triple jump, 300 meter low hurdles, high jump, 800m, you name it.
Once we refocused on improving in the high hurdles late in the season, it took me a few tries before it finally clicked. At the last meet of the season, I placed sixth overall in a field of mostly upperclassmen.
Even though I didn’t make the champions, districts or states that year, I saw big improvements once I stopped being afraid of failure and put myself out there.
That laid the groundwork for the athlete I am now.
Athletes sometimes go out of their way to purposefully avoid opposition and failure. Some never take the leap towards a new event or different position because they value how they appear in the present over their potential in the future.
After not making a team once, many will never try out again or do no training the entire year expecting different results the following. Many will come up with excuses for why they didn’t make it or why they aren’t in a more prominent position.
Part of the reason why I love track and field is that it’s all numbers. If your times aren’t as fast or your marks aren’t as big as another athlete, you can’t argue anything.
Work to be better.
Sports are as equal mental as it is physical. Sports can hurt your body, but they can also crush you emotionally. Whenever an athlete makes excuses for why they didn’t do one thing or another, they are losing the mental battle with themselves.
My biggest advice to any incoming freshman as an outgoing senior is to leave your expectations and your ego at the door. Work your hardest, be coachable, listen to your body and communicate with your coaches. Don’t make excuses. Be willing to do what it takes to clear that extra hurdle, even if you trip and fall.