By Mariah Ray
Growing up, I was always in some sport. It began with t-ball, then transitioned into fast pitch softball where I was running back and forth from one field of play to another. In middle school, I had track right after school and then my mom would drive me to the next town over for softball practice. My summers were filled with camps for every sport imaginable and I almost never got a break.
That is how I wanted it though. I wanted to be out there with my teammates, striving to accomplish one common goal. Losing was always tough, but the feeling of not trying was even harder to grasp. For me, the ball was always in my court and if I wanted something bad enough, I was going to put in the work for it. This has gotten me to where I am today.
As a college sophomore on the track and field team, I am the most competitive athlete I have ever been. With a conference team championship just out of reach, I am pushed to be the best thrower for my team that I can be. I have pushed my body to new extremes time and time again.
On more than one occasion I have sweat straight through all my clothes just from sheer work. In no small feat, I have become the fittest version of myself I have ever been. HHT has made getting here 10x as hard and twice as frustrating, but that fire burning inside just won’t die.
The secret to my personal success is knowing my limits. There are times during practice when my teammates are sprinting up and down the stairs in the football stadium and I have to walk in between sets instead. Sometimes they are hang cleaning more than 100 pounds, six sets in a row, while I bump it down to four.
I could go on and on about the things I “give up” just to stay healthy. Sure it is extremely frustrating sometimes and downright aggravating, but I know this is the only way I am going to truly help my team succeed.
Putting those limits on yourself is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and wisdom. I could, and have, pushed myself to my breaking point, but in those moments I am no longer an asset, but a liability. I am putting my health and well-being at risk. It takes time, but I’ve learned my teammates and coaches would rather have me on the field, maybe doing “less work” than those around me, than in a hospital bed.
I just want all those young athletes out there to know you don’t have to give up on your dreams because of a medical ailment. Use that as your fuel to be the most successful athlete and person you can be. Most importantly, don’t be ashamed for staying true to your limits because at the end of the day your friends and family want you happy and healthy more than you want to be on the court. And trust me, if you want something bad enough and work to the best of YOUR ability to get there, that dream will slowly become a reality.