Written by junior infielder Lexi Gifford
My junior year has been nothing short of another challenging experience for myself and the team. There have been a lot of changes, and with change comes the challenge and adjustment. I have learned change never gets easier, no matter what the context or circumstances. This year, as a team, we have accepted every challenge and in a brief period of time learned to step outside of our own comfort zone both on and off the field.
The University of Connecticut has one of the top exercise science programs in the country. I was pumped when I heard the news that I was accepted into the kinesiology program! Little did I know that getting into the program was the easy part. The real challenge is now trying to stay ahead. I have had to work harder than I ever have academically. Every class I am in is extremely important for my future. I have no room to slack off because I realize there is more at stake than just a GPA; it’s my future, my career.
For me and the team, challenge doesn’t stop in the classroom. Coach Mac has split the year up into 7 different phases. Phase 1 was “commit,” we used this portion of the season to buy into what the coaches were doing and learn to adjust to all the changes. With the new look, practices and workouts were difficult, but as a team we pushed through and made major improvements. Currently, we are in the middle of phase 2, which is titled “laced up.” I have never been very good at tying shoes so when I heard this phase was called laced up, I knew I was in for a challenge. I was right. These past few weeks we have worked harder than we ever thought we could. This phase pushes us to the brink both physically and mentally. We are pushing our bodies to limits we didn’t even know we could reach, and the next day we go a little further. But with any challenge comes growth. I know for a fact that I am getting faster, stronger, and mentally tougher. Now I can even run up to the third floor and not sound like I’m having an asthma attack when I walk into class!
College itself is a challenge. As a student athlete, life is like a balancing act. I have learned in order to improve and succeed in school, softball, and life I have to be challenged. And learning to accept and adjust to every challenge is what helps me and my team get better and closer to reaching our goals. This applies to everything; school, softball, your job, cooking, dancing, and lastly tying your shoes.