Being a good sport: The life of a student athlete

Mainstream culture sometimes presents athletes as dumb jocks or relentless bullies. In reality, they can be the pinnacle of discipline, respect, and determination. 

Two student athletes have put everything on the line to pursue their student sport careers. Riley Williams and Kyler Gashel have been all in during every match, game, and competition, fulfilling their mindset of focus throughout their everyday life. 

Both Riley and Kyler have been playing their respective sports for over five years. Kyler started soccer when he was four years old and Riley started Olympic weightlifting as an eighth grader.

Though they are both seasoned veterans in their sports, they both still face challenges. Confidence proves to be a difficulty when it comes to performing well.

“I’ve always struggled with overcoming my fears of making an error, and how people will think of me after I make a mistake,” says Kyler. 

While their sports have vast differences, they both still have shared similar concerns. Time management, listening to your body, and communication are things that they both work on.

“ I feel that I am pretty good at time management skills. I train four to five days a week, each session about an hour and a half to two hours,” says Riley. “I always leave myself plenty of time to do school work, hobbies, and anything else.”

Their sports take up a lot of their free time, but it is important for them to also leave room for their schoolwork. They learned that a lot of the disciplines they learned in their respective sport translates over to other environments.

“I think that teamwork and team support goes a long way,” says Riley. “It even carries over to everyday life.” 

Regardless of teamwork, Riley and Kyler wouldn’t be as accomplished in their sports as they are without mentors. Many people have weaved in and out of their career to motivate and support them.

“For years my coaches in middle school and high school constantly told me I was in my head too much, and only until I got close with God was I finally able to understand what they meant,” says Kyler. “ I was always having an internal conflict in my mind, and it crippled my ability to play confidently and focus on just this moment. My senior year stood out above the rest of my years in soccer because I finally had the confidence I had so desperately needed for many years.”

For both of them, their coaches have proven to be the ones that know best. Whether its by seeing why they aren’t performing as well as trying to make them feel motivated, they can rely on their coaches.

“I believe that coaches are critical influencers for their athletes,” says Riley. “My present coach knows how to push me to my limits without causing stress or burnout.”

Sports have proved to be very important in the lives of Kyler and Riley. Many lessons of discipline, ambition, respect, and teamwork have been shifted over to their everyday lives.

Next time a “dumb jock” appears on your screen, think of the obstacles, control, and confidence that truly contributes to making a star athlete. 


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