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You Are More Than an Athlete

Make the connection. End the stigma.

Athletes, we’ve got a ton of pressure on us. Whether you are playing division 3, division 2, division 1, or junior college, collegiate student athletes are the “real deal”. This was your dream. It’s what every high school athlete dreams of. It’s THE dream.

Becoming a college athlete envelops you in

this stigma that you have everything together. You work hard, you are determined, you are strong, you’re athletic, and you are a college student at the same time. You’re lucky. And the pressure that you had to take is what got you here. Pressure to perform in front of the right people, pressure to get the stats, pressure to choose the right fit. And we did it. We are lucky. This is a stigma so potent that even we start to believe it. Why am I so stressed, I can usually handle it? Why is it so hard for me to get out of bed today, I didn’t even have practice yesterday? I can play through this, I did it in high school. I can handle the stress, the sport is supposed to be my release. Sound familiar?

And we’re always told the same sort of thing: pressure makes diamonds.

They say that pressure makes diamonds, and that is true. Given an excess amount of pressure, a diamond will form. And given its structure it is a very hard, tough, seemingly unbreakable crystal. That’s what the student athlete stigma is: the pressure we have on us is what makes us strong. It’s what got us here.

I do agree that pressure in the game is healthy. The pressure put on me in the game of softball makes me a better player. I’ll fail a lot of times, but that makes the victories sweeter. The pressure as it stands makes you stronger. We know this. We’ve played these games for a long time, and we get a thrill form the pressure of the game. It's why our hands sweat when the winning run is on third base, or our heart pounds faster when you’re down two with 20 seconds left. This type of pressure has made each and every one of us the diamonds of our sport.

But there’s a problem: Life doesn’t know.

I am a Division 1 athlete, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be playing at this level. The little girl I used to be dreamed about these moments. The gratitude for this opportunity has not and will never change. What no one warns you about though, is that life doesn’t know that you’re supposed to be living your dream. Life doesn’t care about the game the way we do. Life keeps going, and in your busiest week of the semester, or your biggest week of games, life HAS NO IDEA the pressure you’re under.

Life doesn’t know how much you can handle, and it doesn’t care about inconvenience.

The problem is this: Not all pressure makes diamonds. Diamonds are strong. The toughest gem we know of, a diamond is the hardest material known to man. It can withstand a lot of pressure. But did you know that when pressure builds up too much in a diamond, all it would take is a pin prick in the wrong spot and the diamond would shatter? Diamonds don’t crack. The take all they can and you would never know the pressure they’re under until you hit them in the wrong spot, and it would SHATTER. Not all pressure makes diamonds.

We get up at 6am three days a week (at least) to lift weights. We go to the trainer to take care of our body. We labor all day, and then ice our bodies at night. But what have you done for your mind?

Mental health has been overlooked. And the truth is that sometimes life puts pressure on you that is so much bigger than the game is, and then the game hits you in the right spot, and you shatter. You don’t know which way is up.

Remember to treat your mind the way you treat your body. Seek “treatment” for your mind the same way you seek it for a pulled muscle. Spend time with yourself as much as you spend time in the weight room. Remember that you are tough, and you can handle more pressure than anyone can understand. But, even diamonds have breaking points.

--Jessie Rising


REDEFYNE is passionate about addressing important setbacks: mental, physical, or emotional. Mental health in student athletes is our focus this month. To us, we’ve lost enough athletes, and we want to normalize the variety of pressures student athletes are under every day. We are here, we see you, and we care about you.

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