The summer going into my freshman year was full of optimistic dreams. I poured countless hours into my passion, soccer. At the time I had played year round since I was 6 years old. Going into tryouts that year, I knew I could achieve whatever I wanted to do because of my commitment to the sport. Mental and physical boundaries were pushed everyday by the coaches, all to get the ultimate goal of playing varsity soccer as a freshman.
I made varsity. Nearly three months later I'd find myself underneath an MRI scanner with an injury that would hold me out of varsity soccer and club soccer for the rest of the year. I learned that even though my main goal had been reached, I did not work hard enough to maintain it. Meanwhile, my grandmother was diagnosed with a rare aggressive cancer. My grandparents moved to Pennsylvania to live with us for the last months of my grandmother's life. During that time we discovered that my grandfather was suffering from dementia. Our family made the choice of moving back to the south in order to care for my grandfather.
My interest in medicine began with the loss of my grandmother and a desire to better understand my grandfather's change in behavior. Through my recovery I began to grow interested in the physical therapy I'd been undergoing. Over the next three years of high school I gravitated towards taking classes that taught me how the body functions.
Moving to a private school in Montgomery, Alabama sophomore year was a difficult experience. With academic expectations higher than ever before, the stress was substantial. Meanwhile, my family struggled with taking on the care of my aging grandfather. I found myself caring for an adult who once cared for me as a young child. To say the experience has been challenging is an understatement. However, there is always a lesson to be learned. I learned that even when stressed I was capable of being compassionate and putting another person's needs above my own.
With the stress at home and newfound academic challenges, I found myself longing for soccer. Soccer has always been my anchor and a path to personal success. My injury and scheduling differences between the northeast and south (soccer switched from a fall sport to a spring sport) meant I had spent nearly a year away from playing competitively. My doctor recommended I no longer play soccer year round to avoid overuse injuries. In order to get back in shape I decided to join the cross country team. To my own surprise I was a key contributor to the team. What was a preparation sport became a main sport. Running a 5k is a big accomplishment. Running a 5k in under 20 minutes is a life lesson. Cross country has taught me to take my actions one step at a time, but keep my eye on the goal. Throughout a race, there will be as much adversity to overcome as there will be in life, but with the right amount of effort, an obstacle can become an accomplishment. The conditioning I received during cross country improved my soccer performance. The sports medicine course I took sophomore year helped to shape my goals.
Junior year I was asked to take a leadership role for our cross country team. I will carry the experience of competing with and leading an amazing group of guys with me into my future endeavors. Heading into soccer season, I was in peak physical condition. I was nominated for the All Star Team and awarded All Metro.
My belief is that you cannot do much without the person beside you. Nothing in life is guaranteed. I have learned adversity makes you stronger and leadership is an honor. I know if I approach life with commitment and pride I will reach the goals I set for myself.