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From Dual Varsity High School Athlete to No Sports in College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kent State chapter.

Over 13 years of my life, I have gone through a variety of sports. I have done soccer, softball, taekwondo, basketball, track and field and volleyball. But in high school, I narrowed it down to just track and field and basketball, so that I could have more time to do clubs and honors societies too. I’ll admit, I was a try-hard and completely exhausted myself every day. Looking back to my younger self, I would not recommend for her to do so many activities to the point where I pulled three all nighters per week, and if I didn’t pull all nighters, I only got roughly three hours of sleep per night. Yikes.

I love staying fit and being active, but since sports were always a big part of my life, I never really took it into consideration that I could stop at any point and try something new. I thought about what my life in high school would be like numerous times if I did not do sports, but every time it felt unrealistic, uncomfortable and like I was “missing out on something.”

Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun doing sports in high school. I was in varsity track and field for all four years, JV basketball for two years and varsity basketball for another two years. In all reality, however, the dynamic of varsity track and field for me, was the most beautiful and raw thing during my sports career.

My high school track experience

We trained in rainstorms and thunderstorms, when the snow blizzards were so insane that little flakes froze onto your eyelashes and then in the summer or late spring heat where you had to hop in the ice bath that sat in the center of the football field after every single lap.

Never in my life did I think I could easily bond with every single person on the track team, but I did. No matter the year you were in or the gender you were, I was friends with everyone and we did not leave a man behind. We ran in big groups and we were tough. At track meets, I remember how we would full on sprint on the sidelines neck and neck, screaming our teammates names as they competed. We would meet them at the finish line and slap their backs or give them high fives and crouch next to them as they collapsed on the turf from well deserved exhaustion.

Sports Cross Country Starting Line
Tiffany Meh / Spoon

My 4×4 relay event was the toughest of them all over the four years. We had to wear tank tops and spandex in 20-40 degree weather and our event was always last, so we would run in the pouring rain at 11:00 p.m. at night a lot of the time. Running is something I still truly love and still do in college today, even though I do not do it as an official sport.

if I was an athlete, why did i choose not to do sports in college?

I wanted to try new things

I started to look at the mindset that “you only have one life.” I just finished reading “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” and the quote that stuck with me was, “[l]ife can feel very long sometimes, but in the end, it goes fast.” I want to try new things, learn new things about different cultures and meet and variety of different people. I thought doing a sport in college would not fulfill that, since you are with your teammates almost 24/7 and you usually have two practices a day, leaving only room for studying. Sports has been with me since I was born and I am ready for something that is foreign to me.

I wanted to hone more skills for my career, network and work on some of my current hobbies i’m passionate about for my mental health.

I have learned that mental health is extremely important and based off of personal experience, something that I did not take care of a lot in high school. I really want to focus more on the hobbies I enjoy to boost myself mentally since I really enjoy them!

Also, since I am a Journalism major, networking is extremely important for me! So I have been trying to get out there more. I have been writing for editorial newspapers like this one and searching for ones that are hiring this spring semester and next fall! With a more open schedule, I was given the opportunity to meet well-known New York City Broadcast Journalist and professor at Columbia University, Jen Maxfield. Journalism is something you just have to dip your toes into with a variety of things, try to meet as many people possible to network with and to continue honing your skills in speaking and writing. So, I thought the more open time, the more beneficial it will be for me.

I am still recovering from lots of injuries

Sports over 13 years and 5-7 days a week took an extreme toll on my body. I have suffered over 30 ankle injuries, a concussion, a broken pinky, a fractured nose, a torn muscle by my ribcage, multiple deep cuts and knee issues from slamming my knees on the floor in contact sports. Long story short: My. Body. Hurts. It has taken lots of stretching and knee exercises to make my body feel better.

I needed a break. Since I am only 18, I did not want to have more injuries from a college sport. With this time, I have been able to heal my body and relax a lot more, which has been amazing for my health.

I have still been staying fit and exercising by going to the gym 3-4 days a week. It has been a great help running on the treadmill and lifting as a break from my studies. Doing it by myself or with friends has been a great way to spend the extra time that I have now.

High school sports have kept me organized and motivated.

Another plus about doing sports in high school was that because I had them 5-7 days a week and up to 12 hours a day if it was an invitational for track, it helped me be a lot more organized. With less time on my hands because of sports, I had to prioritize my studies, clubs, honors societies and hanging out with friends.

It has definitely helped me keep a routine and not procrastinate as much in college. I keep a structured list of what I have to do for the day, but also throughout the week since a college schedule is very different and more open than high school!

My first year of college has been the best time to just figure out who I am and who I want to be. College gives me so many opportunities to do this, so I am trying to take advantage of the entire experience!

Now, this is not to deter you from starting or sticking with a college sport. This is based on my own personal experiences and what I am personally looking for now. I am on a new journey and I am ready for the ride.

Ella Katona

Kent State '26

Ella is a sophomore at Kent State University. She is a Journalism major and has minors in Environmental Studies and Creative Writing. Ella was born and raised in Pittsburgh and adores spending her time out in nature, reading, running and doing anything involving art.