Courtesy: Donna Hale
Graduation videos, postings, announcements, and college decisions are filling up Facebook like an overflowing dam. Oh, the possibilities of life as they shine bright during special times and moments.
To some extent any of us who make big decisions, such as where to go to college, where to play a sport, and even what to major in are rolling the dice. You never know whether it will be all you hoped for, fall short of what you dreamed of, or somewhere in between.
What these last years have taught me, and my children, is part of life is knowing when to change course and direction. And this is profoundly true in college athletics like swimming. We are forcing our kids to make life commitments and choices earlier and earlier.
But, we are forgetting that no one has it all figured out and that it is not only okay to make changes, it is what growing up is all about. My beautiful swimmer girl, who was just four years old yesterday, will be transferring next fall. It is a scary and brave decision to alter your course if it is not taking you where you want to go.
It takes courage to change. It takes passion. It takes a genuine leap of faith. But, it is also a chance to grow and become who you have always wanted to be. I transferred to a college and was not an athlete, and I found my place in a beautiful campus in Virginia. Watching this process unfold has taught her so much. Sharing these lessons in the hopes they can help someone else who might need a change.
- When it is not everything you hope for, still give it everything you have. This is an important life lesson because it teaches you about commitment, dedication, and honoring your best self. She has done that and grown in ways I never imagined possible. Putting forth your best self is always the right thing to do. It really is true that when life gives you lemons, you not only make lemonade but bake some cookies as well.
- Focus on the good memories. My daughter has made lifelong friends, learned to deal with difficult people, and chased her dreams with reckless abandon. That is the way we all need to live our lives. You cannot get the moments back. Make them all count. Every single one.
- Learn from your decisions that did not turn out as you expected and explore the why. She has truly learned that each of you swimmers are student athletes. While you may do masters or even coach, your contributions to the world go way beyond what you do between the lane lines. Swimming is what you do and not all of who you are.
- Stay focused on those dreams. Swimming demands so much of athletes. I know this can be debated about many sports. But I stand firm that it takes heart, strength, and a connection to the water to swim for as long as many of these students do. There is no offseason. Think back to the four year old who fell in love with the water and never looked back. That is who you are swimming for. The girl you were and the woman you are becoming. Most of all, pass it on to those who follow you.
- Most of all, believe in yourself. Always be your own greatest fan. You did not get where you are by being defined by the comments or the opinions of others. You got here by practicing and competing. You won. You lost. But you never gave up. That is your reward for being an athlete. Embrace what is ahead with joy, hope and perseverance.
Most of all remember that courage is what takes you to the extraordinary places you are meant to go. Give your new adventure everything you have got. Make lemonade and cookies.
About Donna Hale
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 16 years. Her daughter swims in NCAA.