Why College is the Best Time to Try a New Sport

            Before coming to college, I had participated in three different sports throughout my life. I did Tae Kwon Do for seven and a half years, softball for three, and track and field for four. When you grow up in a small town, surrounded by people who you have seen at almost every phase of your life, it can feel like you are defined by these sports.

           

“Oh, I know you! You’re that something-degree, black belt.”

            “I think I know them. They play softball, right?”

            “We need them on our team. They’re super fast because they run track.”

 

By the time you get to high school, you’re expected to be done experimenting and to have found the sport that you are good at (if you are an athlete, of course). If you even think about trying anything else, you often get judged, and there’s pressure to excel alongside your peers, who have been playing for their whole lives. Not only that, but as you get older, sports get more competitive. It’s all about who can run the fastest, score the most points, make the most tackles, and hit the farthest. Sports become less about fun and more about winning. If you stop having fun, your options can feel very black-and-white.

 

I remember when I was in high school, I ran varsity track all four years. When I first joined, I absolutely loved it. The workouts pushed me, the people supported me, and the coach recognized my hard work. By the time senior year hit, all of that changed. I dreaded going to practices, and I couldn’t wait till it was over. My parents asked me why I didn’t quit after junior year if I was so unhappy. The answer was simple: if I quit track, I quit sports completely—it was all-or-nothing.

 

Most of you might be wondering by now, “What makes college so different then?” College is a brand new slate. A fresh start. Nobody knows anything about you or your past, unless you tell them. It’s the perfect opportunity to try something new—like a new sport. Nobody has any expectations of you and your abilities. If you’re joining a club sport or intramural sport, chances are you’ll be with people who have also just joined for the first time too.

For me, this sport was rugby. Playing rugby was never something that even crossed my mind when I came to RIT. When I stumbled upon it at the club fair, I had no idea who was on the team, what it was going to be like, or how to play. But I gave it a shot, and it was the best decision I ever made. By taking this chance and branching out of my comfort zone, I discovered a team that truly played for the love of the game. Everyone on the team supported each other on and off the field, which is not something I was used to. The environment was so welcoming, and I actually felt like I was part of what a real team should be. Nobody judged me for my lack of experience, and there was no competition between anyone to be the “best.” Additionally, because it’s a club sport, I don’t feel any pressure to stay with the team for all of my years here if I don’t want to. There are so many other club sports that I could easily join if I ever wanted to, and there wouldn’t be anyone here to judge me about it.

 

RIT has so many different kinds of sports you can try. If it doesn’t have what you want, you can easily get a group of people together to start one! Entering college is a crazy and stressful time, but it can also be a chance for you to finally be free of any holds your community might have placed on you to stay in a certain bubble. Branch out and try a sport you’ve never done before! If you hate it, there is no pressure to stay. College is the perfect opportunity to discover and keep re-discovering yourself. Why not start with a new sport?

            Before coming to college, I had participated in three different sports throughout my life. I did Tae Kwon Do for seven and a half years, softball for three, and track and field for four. When you grow up in a small town, surrounded by people who you have seen at almost every phase of your life, it can feel like you are defined by these sports.

           

“Oh, I know you! You’re that something-degree, black belt.”

            “I think I know them. They play softball, right?”

            “We need them on our team. They’re super fast because they run track.”

 

By the time you get to high school, you’re expected to be done experimenting and to have found the sport that you are good at (if you are an athlete, of course). If you even think about trying anything else, you often get judged, and there’s pressure to excel alongside your peers, who have been playing for their whole lives. Not only that, but as you get older, sports get more competitive. It’s all about who can run the fastest, score the most points, make the most tackles, and hit the farthest. Sports become less about fun and more about winning. If you stop having fun, your options can feel very black-and-white.

 

I remember when I was in high school, I ran varsity track all four years. When I first joined, I absolutely loved it. The workouts pushed me, the people supported me, and the coach recognized my hard work. By the time senior year hit, all of that changed. I dreaded going to practices, and I couldn’t wait till it was over. My parents asked me why I didn’t quit after junior year if I was so unhappy. The answer was simple: if I quit track, I quit sports completely—it was all-or-nothing.

 

Most of you might be wondering by now, “What makes college so different then?” College is a brand new slate. A fresh start. Nobody knows anything about you or your past, unless you tell them. It’s the perfect opportunity to try something new—like a new sport. Nobody has any expectations of you and your abilities. If you’re joining a club sport or intramural sport, chances are you’ll be with people who have also just joined for the first time too.

For me, this sport was rugby. Playing rugby was never something that even crossed my mind when I came to RIT. When I stumbled upon it at the club fair, I had no idea who was on the team, what it was going to be like, or how to play. But I gave it a shot, and it was the best decision I ever made. By taking this chance and branching out of my comfort zone, I discovered a team that truly played for the love of the game. Everyone on the team supported each other on and off the field, which is not something I was used to. The environment was so welcoming, and I actually felt like I was part of what a real team should be. Nobody judged me for my lack of experience, and there was no competition between anyone to be the “best.” Additionally, because it’s a club sport, I don’t feel any pressure to stay with the team for all of my years here if I don’t want to. There are so many other club sports that I could easily join if I ever wanted to, and there wouldn’t be anyone here to judge me about it.

 

RIT has so many different kinds of sports you can try. If it doesn’t have what you want, you can easily get a group of people together to start one! Entering college is a crazy and stressful time, but it can also be a chance for you to finally be free of any holds your community might have placed on you to stay in a certain bubble. Branch out and try a sport you’ve never done before! If you hate it, there is no pressure to stay. College is the perfect opportunity to discover and keep re-discovering yourself. Why not start with a new sport?