To people outside of the athletic world, it is occasionally confusing why others decide to commit countless hours to a sport. It is simply too easy to dismiss sports participation as just another after-school activity to try. But to many athletes, being part of a team or competing has taught them timeless and valuable lessons.
For that reason, Reporter sat down with a handful of RIT student athletes to talk about what sports really do mean to the ones playing them.
"Sports have shaped my life because they have taught me many life lessons while I get to play what I love."
“Sports have shaped my life because they have taught me many life lessons while I get to play what I love,” said Emily Nuñez, a first year Business Exploration major and member of the women’s basketball team. She has been playing competitively for eight years. “Everything I do in my life resolves around basketball, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”
Third year Finance major and runner Emily Young agreed that there are many valuable lessons to be found in sports. “Competing with and for a team really shapes you as an individual,” she explained. Young competes for the track and field team, and this is her ninth year of running.
For some athletes, their sports have also taught them how to handle busy schedules more efficiently.
“To be an athlete means to have tremendous time management because it is not easy balancing practice [and] games with school at times,” explained Nuñez.
Fourth year Journalism major and member of the women’s soccer team Lauren Peace agreed. “Because our schedules are kept full with practices, lifts, recovery and of course our school work, good time management skills are essential,” she said.
According to others, sports have instilled values in them that are not only crucial on the court, but can also be translated into everyday life.
"You learn to never give up because the outcome is worth it."
“You learn to never give up because the outcome is worth it,” said Nuñez.
Nicholas Amendola, a fourth year Microelectronic Engineering major and member of the men’s crew team, agreed with Nuñez when he talked about the types of principles crew has imparted to him.
“Sports make you push through obstacles in which you must persevere through,” he said. “When an athlete gets done with practice, they’re not done for the day. They must go home, study and do homework. Athletes must push on to better themselves and the people around them.”
Along with perseverance and determination, sports offer lessons in work ethic, said Nuñez. “It teaches me to work hard at what I do and nothing will come easy,” she said. “You have to work hard on the court or field, and never take a [day] off in order to become the best player that you can become.”
The idea of a team and what a team means is a key part to what sports are all about. When the athletes were asked what it meant to be a part of a team, they highlighted some valuable points about working with others.
“The job can’t get done unless everyone is on the same page and willing to work their hardest, which will apply one day when we are all working,” said Nuñez, proving the benefit of learning teamwork skills.
Based on her own experiences, Peace had come to a similar conclusion. “To be on a team you have to be selfless, in a sense, but you'll always have your teammates looking out for you in the same way that you're looking out for them,” she said.
As part of a team, athletes learn more about other people as well as working with others, explained Amendola. “Sports teaches you compassion,” he said. “This could be applied to many different situations, like seeing what [others] are struggling with and encouraging [them] through the situation.”
According to Amendola, Peace and Nuñez, teamwork has not only taught them to work together on a more personal level, but also has fostered a sense of belonging they have not found elsewhere.
"It's more than something physical. It makes you part of a team and enables you to grow."
“It’s more than something physical. It makes you part of a team and enables you to grow,” said Amendola.
Nuñez agreed. She explained, “To be part of the team is the best feeling, because it is like having a built-in family.”
All this time spent with the same people day in and day out is not something that just ends overnight. All four athletes said that the bonds they formed with their team continue to stay with them long after the season is over.
“Being a part of a team is everything. I'll carry my time with my teammates with me for the rest of my life,” explained Peace.
Nuñez found this to be the case in her own experiences. “I can truly call RIT home away from home because of how much fun I have with my teammates on a daily basis,” she said.
Crucial life lessons might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sports, but it is clear when listening to these athletes that lessons play an important role in the athletic world. Although Nuñez, Young, Peace and Amendola all play different sports, their shared experiences suggests the true value and worth of participating.
Sure, sports are fun to play and watch, but they have the ability to provide infinitely more than just entertainment.