The Things Nobody Told Me - Haven Empey
Never was I told….
- Sushi Bros was discounted after 11:00pm
- a freshmen parking spot was equivalent to winning the lottery…..000001% chance.
- the testing center was like walking into your own funeral
- the parking police have xray vision
- probiotic drinks are carbonated…DO NOT SHAKE!
- the RB stairs are worse than running repeats (If you know you know)
- no talking really meant NO TALKING! in the library
- in the heat of spring conditioning I’d touch the ball so much that my brand new gloves would completely rip from the seams by day 16
- a roller would be my worst enemy and my best friend
- you can go TWICE to the buffet counter at Legends!
- rate my professor “what if calculator, and citation machine” would literally save my life
- introduction to dance class is NO INTRO...
-NEVER was I told that this would be the best decision I have ever made
August 2019 - After careful consideration, I made the decision to trust in myself and my preparation and make the biggest jump I’ve had to make thus far in my life. A 24/7 grind is the best way I can describe college life and soccer. From my last day of high school to my first day of college, I had TWO weeks - two weeks to move out of my house, enroll in college classes, get my bearings on campus, and lace up my cleats on a new field with a new team, all while holding a job too. Little did I know at the time that it would be the hardest thing I’d ever do at this point in my life. Graduating early was a decision I had quietly considered for a few years. So when encouraged to, I jumped right on board.
Throughout the beginning stages of my soccer career, I was coached to prepare, prepare, prepare and expect success. Countless coaches dedicate their time to preparing young studs to tear it up in the big leagues. Coaches tell you all the things you need to know to make the collegiate leap like what it is like to be a freshman, how to talk to your coaches, what the conditioning will be like, how the best athletes fuel their bodies, how to handle pressure, how to handle defeat etc… However, when I first got to college and hit the ground running, I thought to myself… “how come I was never told this, or I wish someone would have prepared me for that”. I felt like there was so much I didn’t know. But it wasn’t until I took a step back and stopped focusing on my insecurities as a collegiate athlete and remembered somethings I’ve been told from day one.
My old man often said, “There is no chance, fate, or destiny, that can circumvent, hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul”. I have always been encouraged as a young girl that I can do hard things so long as I had a determined mindset. I realized how this lesson affected me when I started this journey. I was determined, however I had to ask myself just how badly I wanted it. What I want to tell you is that I was never told that doubt can completely cripple athletes. But that would be a lie….. because I have been told that by many coaches and mentors. The funny thing is I never really understood what it meant until recently.
Throughout my career I have experienced degrees of doubt - you face it in big game scenarios that can make or break an athlete. This concept hit me the hardest when I was competing with some of the best soccer players, athletes, and goalkeepers since the beginning of my career. I experienced this doubt factor first hand. The feeling of doubt rises in new environments where you are being pushed to your max and the expectation to be your best self is needed every time you step on the field. It can truly determine what kind of athlete you will be for the rest of your life.
As most athletes know, doubt can be a barrier to success. I have always been behind my team, whichever team that was at the time… It’s the nature of my position. As goalkeepers, we are the last line of defense. We backup our team whenever they need us. So it’s weird to say that I put myself in front, but when waves of insecurities and doubt made it hard to play, that’s what happened. My focus turned INWARD. For a period of time I put myself above my team and with that, the struggles to perform followed. After coming to this realization, I clung to a quote from one of my favorite coaches, Scott Anderson. Scott never let me forget my potential as a player and a leader. He believed in my ability and carried me when I lacked that belief myself. He would have me repeat back to him, “I trust in my ability to do great things”. You see - you don’t do great things for yourself. You do great things for others - your teammates.
This quote carried me through some of the toughest moments in my first few months of D1 soccer. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own battles. But the best soccer is played when you are playing for the people around you instead of yourself. When you place yourself in front of your team, that’s when doubt and insecurities take over, and the next thing you know you’re wondering... who’s the athlete playing - cause it ain’t you!
For all those goalkeepers or players out there feeling self doubt get in the way of your game, I urge you to remember that the antidote is to focus on what is in front of you, which is your team and opportunities. When you are too focused on yourself, so many opportunities pass you by and that’s when the crippling begins. Trust in the time you've put in to prepare. Trust in your dedication. Trust in your teammates, and trust in your ability to do GREAT things.
I was told everything I needed to know to be a successful collegiate athlete; but if I could go back and listen to them again, I would. This experience is one I will hold close and remember often. Even though the spring season was cut short by a few months, given the chance I would make the same decision all over again. I made new friendships, focused on becoming the best goalkeeper I could be, and grew more as a person than I ever thought possible in a short period of time. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the village of people who have in one way or another impacted my life for good. Recognize your village and accept their help to master your craft whatever that may be, and listen to the knowledge they offer you. YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS but you can do even greater things with the help from amazing people that you are surrounded by everyday.
- your biggest fan