There’s no I in team: why I wished I joined a sport

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Hsinyen Huang

As a freshman, I walked into high school with many objectives. I wanted to make new friends, participate in clubs and play a school sport. As time progressed, I checked each of these items off of my check list — all except for playing a sport. I completed all of the necessary forms to participate in a sport and went to the mandatory meetings, but right before I turned my forms in, I would always hesitate. Was I good enough to even play? Would I be able to commit to weeks of practice? My answers to these questions led me to shove the forms back into my backpack and convince myself that I would turn them in another day. Eventually, days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and here I am, now a junior in high school with no experience in high school sports.

Most people begin a sport at a young age, and for me, that sport was swimming. I committed myself to swimming during my elementary school years, but my parents pulled me out of the sport by middle school as they feared it would take time away from schoolwork and other outside activities. I switched over to track and field in middle school, where my main event was long distance running. soon grew tired of track, however, because I always had to leave meets and practices early to go to Chinese school. When my parents let me quit Chinese school halfway through eighth grade, I knew that high school would be the time for me to dedicate myself to a sport.

I was debating back and forth between badminton — since I had fond memories of playing badminton with my relatives in Taiwan — and swimming, but when the fall season rolled around, I realized how talented and experienced my peers had become while I was wasting away in Chinese school. This planted seeds of self-doubt in me, and I feared that I wouldn’t even make it past tryouts. To top it all off, I picked up extracurriculars activities that had time conflicts with sports, so I thought it was unlikely that I would manage to meet the attendance quota for practice. All these reasons stacked together turned me away from trying out for a sport.

I began to feel left out when my friends who participated in sports had made new friends on their teams. I, too, wanted a secret sister who would buy me whatever snacks I craved. Sport teams seemed like a family, and after most of my middle school friends had left me to attend a different high school, all I wanted was a sense of belonging.

Weight training in sophomore year was the last time I regularly exercised. Nowadays, most of my exercise comes from running to sixth period so I won’t be marked late. I don’t really notice myself gaining an unhealthy amount of weight, but I know exercising is important for my health. Since I sit unmoving at my desk for the majority of my time after school, a sport would have given me the motivation to get up and move.  

Although playing a sport would have contributed even more to my workload and stress, it’s nice to be able to lose yourself in sports by practicing for a couple hours. In the past, I’ve always noticed that I felt significantly more relaxed and calm after practices, and having a sport could have helped with relieving stress related to school.

Sure, I regret never taking a chance to go to tryouts and play the best that I can in hopes of landing a spot on a team, but I now realize that committing to a sport would have required me to sacrifice many of the activities I’m a part of. Eventually, I would have had to choose between sports and other extracurriculars, and while I’m glad I chose what I have right now I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had chosen to play a sport instead.