Dear 18-year-old Leslie,

I know this isn’t the first time you’ve wondered if it’s all worth it. All the early morning practices, lifts, conditionings – is this really for you? All the times you were told to work harder, to get on the line or to push yourself, will it matter in a few years’ time? It’s hard right now to see why all of this is going to be worth it, but sitting here three years later, I wouldn’t change a thing.

There are so many experiences coming your way that you aren’t ready for yet. Right now it might seem like an upcoming midterm is the most important thing in your life, or that playing well in tomorrow’s practice is going to determine the rest of your college career, but your time at Richmond is going to bring you so much more than you could ever have imagined.

This fall has definitely been a challenge for you, but you make it through, and you push yourself to be better every day. It’s not easy, especially this year, but it does get easier. You wont see the field much, but that’s okay. This is your year to learn as much as possible from some of the best leaders you have ever had. Believe it or not, you never lose touch with them, and hopefully you never will. Appreciate your team and the fun you have with them. You’ll never forget the times you’ve spent with them.

By the time sophomore year rolls around, things really start to fall into place. You find your confidence and your energy, but you never stop working for what you want. It’s still not easy, but it’s fun. The highs outweigh the lows, and the laughs outweigh the frustrations.

By the way, it might be in your best interest to go ahead and start setting extra alarms. Trust me, the worst experience is being woken up to your teammates’ frantic voices, an experience you probably never will forget.

Take a minute to breathe. Honestly, you never learn to do that enough. Laugh every day. Don’t stress about the little things; in the end a bad grade on a quiz or two doesn’t kill you, believe it or not. Never take life too seriously, because it all works out in the end. Appreciate the friends, teammates, professors and coaches that help you out along the way.

You are going to love the rest of your time in college. You’re going to meet so many people, make so many connections, and have experiences you never knew were possible. Have you ever even heard of mortar board? No, but now you’re honored to be a member of it. Have you ever thought about studying abroad in Spain? No, but after one semester of Spanish you go to Seville for the experience of a lifetime with some of your closest teammates and friends.

Remember what you wrote in your proclamation letter? All those dreams you had as a freshman have come true, and many more. You stuck with lacrosse, like you hoped you would. All the work you put into working hard in school was worth it. You landed a great job and your near future is set. You have found your people both on the team and off, and now you have friends for a lifetime.

Everyone told you that your time in college is going to fly by, and you need to enjoy every minute of it. With three and a half years ahead of you, graduation still seems so far away. As cliché as it sounds, as I sit here now looking back on the time I’ve had, I realized three and a half years went faster than I ever thought it would. Senior season is right around the corner, and you’re lucky to have one last chance to get out there on the field and fight with your team.

Remember to make the most of every opportunity. Celebrate the little things every day. Enjoy the time you have, and focus on learning what makes you happy.

Thank your parents for the opportunity they’ve given you. College really is the best four years of your life.

Leslie