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Welcome To The Grind


Soft music wakes me from sleep. I roll over in bed and drowsily turn off my alarm. It is Monday. Staggering out of bed, I squint at the clock. It reads 6:50 a.m. As the microwave cooks a bowl of oatmeal, I cram my books into my backpack and tug on my shoes. No need to dress – I wore my clothes to bed to save time. By 7:05 a.m. I leave the dorm, laden with breakfast and backpack. After my first class at 7:15 a.m., I walk to practice. Weights are after practice, then class again, and again, and again. At 8:00 p.m., I return to my dorm to eat dinner and do homework. As the clock reads 11:30 p.m., I fall asleep reading my notes.

Welcome to the grind. For a student athlete like me, this consists of daily practice, classes, and homework. There are few breaks – neither mental, emotional, or physical – yet peak performance is expected all the time, both on the court and in the classroom. When the fall semester begins, enthusiasm is high. Refreshed from the summer months of fun and sunshine, athletes are excited to train and compete. However, as the semester ends, energy plummets. This past week I dragged myself out of bed each morning, mentally counting the days until the semester will end.

“What is the point of putting myself through this?” I wondered. “What was I thinking?”

I love playing beach volleyball. I grew up in sunny, southern California where the weather is sunny at least 300 days of the year, and the beach is always open. I was ecstatic to come play collegiate beach volleyball at Grand Canyon University. I was prepared to work hard and to be tired. But I was not prepared to lose my enthusiasm for the game, and I felt it shrinking as the semester ended.

I am a transfer student. I played volleyball at a community college in Irvine, California from 2014 - 2016. Our team was very successful, and I had a lot of fun because of that. This weekend, my former school, Irvine Valley College, competed in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championships. Thrilled for my team, I watched their quarterfinal, semifinal, and final match. Even though I was not playing, I was nervous during every point. I could feel the excitement of the crowd and sense the excitement of the players. Having completed a similar journey in my tenure at IVC, I understood the hard work and commitment all the players present had made to reach this point.

That is why I play sports. Playing for a championship is an amazing experience. For some people, it happens once, for others, it happens more than once – but the feeling is unforgettable. Despite my tired brain, exhausted emotions, and aching legs, I am still excited to practice tomorrow. I practice with the hope of learning, of changing, and of improving. I play with the hope of a championship. It is not easy and sometimes not fun, but it is very rewarding. Welcome to the grind – hard work will reap great benefits if we do not give up.