By: Brooke Beam, Spider Soccer Freshman
My first day at Richmond was probably the scariest of my life.
I was going into the unknown, and all I could think about was the list of challenges that I had in front of me. Preseason training and running tests for soccer, then classes and homework on top of that. In the past I would always get stressed out about the little things, but this was another level.
After the first few days on campus, I realized that I had to move beyond that.
It was time to grow up.
I knew I would be fine, so I finally learned to just let it all go, relax and stay focused on each individual task. I think that it’s really helped me have a smoother transition, and knowing that the rest of my freshman teammates were going through the same thing was a comforting thought.
Coming to campus early was really a blessing in disguise. When I committed to play soccer at Richmond, I had only been on campus once and I hadn’t even met the team. Coming here for preseason and getting used to everything was really nice, and by the time classes started, I knew where every building was on campus and where to find my classes.
I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to compete at this level of play, but I knew I had trained hard and was as prepared as I could be. The college level is a lot different than high school – the physicality, the speed and everything else was going to be much more difficult.
I knew it would be a challenge coming in, so I didn’t really have any specific goals for myself. I didn’t tell myself I had to start every game. I told myself, “you’re ready, and the only thing you’re going to focus on now is doing your best.”
So that’s exactly what I did.
I have very high expectations for myself, so of course I think I could have had a better season, but overall, I’m pretty happy with my performance.
There were definitely moments this season when I knew that I had found the right place for me. Our first home game was one of those moments, when there was so much excitement and we were playing under the lights in the stadium. I was thinking to myself, “I found my family, this is where I’m supposed to be.”
There were also those moments when I questioned my strength, but I always found the will to overcome them.
There was one particular day, not long after our season started. I woke up early, around 6 a.m., and I did individual training in the morning. I think I had a half hour break through the whole day, and I didn’t stop until 10 p.m. I was exhausted.
I called my mom and said, “Mom, I don’t know if I can do this.” She told me, “you can do it Brooke, you’ll be fine.”
I told myself I could get through it, and I did. I would never had been able to do that in high school. The good moments from this season, and knowing that I put in the extra work, has made those moments of struggle worth it.
I think that having such a tight-knit team has also helped through those difficult times. We’re like a family, and that really makes all the difference. We have an emotional bond with one another, and that’s so important because that shows on the field too.
I love my freshman class so much. We’re like sisters, and I couldn’t have been luckier to have such a great class. I feel like I was put here for a reason, and because we all have such different personalities, we make a really great group together.
Looking back, I know I have a lot of work to do for next season. I want to be able to generate more attack for the team, because I know that we have so much talent and potential that we can use.
I’m already feeling motivated to just start working and to prepare for the season. Now that I’ve been through it all once, I know what to expect. I’m ready to train all summer, because I want to see this team do great things. I know that we all have potential to do it.
What I’ve really learned through my first season is that it’s all about the journey.
I feel like I’ve become a better person through this season. Going through something like this, something so different and challenging, changes you so much as a person. I’ve grown stronger, and I’m definitely able to endure more than I ever have in my life.
For those who still have their rookie season ahead of them, I can honestly say that the one important thing to remember is to keep your love for the game. If you do that, you’re going to enjoy what you’re doing and overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
In college, it’s a lot of hard work. But you still have to have that love and passion for the game. You have to be prepared to sacrifice for your teammates and for yourself to get better. The love and sacrifice are the things that will allow you to grow, just like I did in my first season.