Getting Cut from my Varsity Team was the Best Thing That Happened to Me This Year

When I received the list of those who had made it past the final cuts for the varsity skating team, I didn’t see my name. I closed the list immediately and cried. After two years of waking up at 5AM for early morning practices, travelling to different cities for competitions, and making memories with my friends on the team, it was all over. Being on the figure skating team was a huge part of my first two years of university; I didn’t know what life would be like without it. The disappointment left me lying in bed feeling numb for an entire day.

I knew there was a possibility of being cut. It is a very high caliber team and many talented skaters came to this year’s tryouts. My own skating had recently deteriorated after the sudden onset of a chronic illness last year. I knew my body wasn’t capable of keeping up with the demands of the varsity team, but I wanted so badly to prove to myself that I could still make the team, that my chronic pain wouldn’t stop me from being a varsity athlete. Being cut felt like a defeat. It was the first major loss I’d experienced as a result of my disease.

Along with being cut, I not only lost competition memories and team bonding time with my friends, but I also lost the status of being a varsity athlete. At many universities including mine, wearing a varsity winter coat and tracksuit are status symbols. Now, I had to deal with the embarrassment of explaining that I’m no longer a part of that “elite” group.

So, I cried—and then I had to move on. My chronic illness may have taken away some things, but I wouldn’t let it take away skating completely. I tucked my varsity winter coat away into a bin and bought a new coat. I slowly accepted my new role as a “figure skater,” not a “varsity figure skater.”  I found a new skating coach who understands chronic pain and has helped my skating improve tremendously. I continued to wake up early three to four mornings a week to practice, except now it wasn’t for the purpose of being on the team, it was totally and completely for me. I found ways to skate despite my physical pain, and most importantly, I found joy in skating again. I even competed for the first time in three years and came home with a bronze medal. I have new friends from my new skating club and I’ve made amazing new connections and memories that wouldn’t be possible if I was still on the varsity team.

The day I was cut, I had no idea that it was a blessing in disguise. I will always miss the two years I spent on the team, but I am comfortable knowing that life goes on in the absence of a varsity tracksuit. With each day that I wake up and lace up my skates, I am reminded that my passion for skating persists, no matter what gets in my way.

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