All posts by Allie Patterson

Making a New Pie

Senior Elizabethtown College field hockey players Megan Eppley and Charity Good shared the same experience. Together, they took the field in the Landmark Conference semi-final game confident they could win. As the game progressed, this confidence dwindled. The Catholic University of America Cardinals had a 3-0 lead with 18 minuets left. A fight to the end proved unsuccessful.

For Eppley and Good this meant the end of their careers. Both of them did not immediately leave the field. There was a slow longing in them for something more, even though the crowd stopped cheering. How could it be over just as quickly as it started? It was indeed the end.

It is hard to figure out what is easier: A hectic day packed with classes, studying and sports practices or a less hectic schedule. But what happens when the craziness is over? What happens when something that has been a part of your life for so long is over?

The daily grind of practices ends and the roaring crowds on game day are silenced. This silence carries over into the post season. For the freshmen, sophomores and juniors this lull is only temporary. However, for seniors it is forever. Some day, the next class will know too, when the crowd ceases to cheer their names and the silence begins.

With the silence comes a void.

It can be a challenge to adjust to a new schedule. Especially if a schedule of constantly going to sports practices has been engrained for so long.

“There was definitely an obvious void in my life, knowing that I will never play collegiately again,” Eppley said, reflecting on her completed field hockey career.

The next day for her there was not a practice to go to, a need to workout, or practice some stick skills.

“It felt weird that next day, not having a practice to go to,” she said.

Eppley had to digest that a big part of her identity for the majority of her life was athletics. She grew up playing field hockey along with a few other sports.

“It’s also weird to think that for the first time in a long time I will not have the routine of sports in my life,” she said.

Good also thought it was hard learning how to adjust to a new schedule. She grew up playing multiple sports. There was never a moment where she was not competing on a weekend.

“It’s always weird adjusting your schedule after the season is over,” she said.

She reflected on how there was kind of something missing from her, there was a feeling of emptiness.

“After normally having practice every night, the evenings feel so empty, and the first Saturday not having a game felt weird,” she said.

An Identity Crisis

 For some ex-collegiate athletes it is hard to adjust to a new life. Especially after a life filled with sports. Some say that this adjustment can be hard; it can be portrayed as a loss of identity.

Dr. Elizabeth Dalton is an Assistant Professor at Elizabethtown College as well as a clinical psychologist by training. Her area of study focuses on how physical illness, stress, and mood can impact behavior. She especially likes to look at this impact in college students.

Dalton likes to explain an individual’s identity and self-esteem as a pie chart with many different activities included. She says when being an athlete, most of the pie chart is filled with that athletic identity. It is hard to adjust to a new way of life and find other things to take the place of athletics. There is time involved in to finding these new slices of the pie.

“It is difficult for athletes to adjust to a new lifestyle because it has been a big part of their identity for so long,” she said.

Some athletes could fall into depression at the end of their careers.

“Clinically, yes,” Dalton explained. “Depression can occur, but it is important to seek other things to combat this.”

Some have compared the end of a sports career to the same feeling as losing a loved one. This feeling is correct but it is not on the same scale by any means, it is simply a loss of identity.

“Life has many types of loss including loss of identity,” Dalton explained. “There is a feeling of grief when a collegiate athletic career ends, but it is not the same as losing a loved one.”

Finding the New Pieces

 Luckily, as Dalton said, there are ways to combat this loss and find new pieces that fit into the identity pie.

“Make more slices of the pie,” she said. “Find another way to identify yourself by joining a community rec. league or taking up a hobby.”

Eppley and Good, now Non-Athletic Regular Persons (NARP), are both going to miss the game greatly and the adrenaline that comes with it.

“I jokingly call myself a NARP now, even though I’ll never really be able to accept it,” said Eppley.

Both former athletes do plan to add more pieces to their identity pie. They hope to do this through summer and indoor field hockey leagues.

“I have already been contacted about coaching youth leagues locally, and will continue to do the winter indoor league with my team this year,” Eppley said.

Good also wants to coach as well. She thinks it is the best way to stay involved.

“I might help out as a coach at my old high school and with their elementary camp if my schedule works around it,” she said.

The two can agree on another thing as well. Regardless of both of their careers ending, the best memory they share is winning the 2016 Landmark Championship; a special place in their hearts where the cheering of the crowd will live forever.

A Bittersweet Goodbye

Sometimes a mom just knows when you need a hug. The Sunday after Thanksgiving I was lying in bed and my mom popped her head into my room. She could visibly notice that I was just crying. I had just watched the new Gatorade “Sisters in Sweat” video featuring Serena Williams. The video talks about the power of sports in the lives of young women.

I happen to know a lot about this subject because I just finished my professional athletic career. This video made me cry, uncontrollably. When my mom asked me what was wrong I told her that I missed my sport and my Sisters in Sweat.

So.. to my Sisters in Sweat and the sport I love,

Thank you. You have given me the most amazing years of triumph and defeat. There is no one else I would have rather ran mile Mondays with or leaned on after a tough loss.

This sport and playing sports my whole life has taught me how to pick myself up and keep going. How to persevere even when things seemed most dark. After two surgeries, there was a time when I thought I was going to quit playing all together. I was unhappy and forgot about the amazing gift that I had been given. I was given the gift of being an athlete. Not everyone is lucky enough to continue on the collegiate level.

Remembering my gift reminded me why I shouldn’t quit, but also you, my Sisters in Sweat. My friends. Thank you. Being a member of this team has been a blessing. I am a better person because of all of you.

No matter how hard the games, keep fighting. No matter how grueling the practice, keep going. Put in extra time, whether it is in the gym or on the field getting extra shots. It will be worth it in the end when you are holding a championship trophy.

But as Serena Williams said in the video, “In this game of life, please keep playing no matter what”. That is my wish for all of you, no matter where life takes you. I can’t wait to cheer you on all the way to another championship and kick all of your butts at the alumni game. With all of you I truly found my sisters in sweat. TCB.

All of my love,

Allie

 

— Here’s the link to the Gatorade video

A League of Their Own: Still Work to Do

I’ve decided to keep with the sports movie theme. This week I got the chance to watch another baseball movie. This movie focuses on social change and quite frankly girl power. Great social change has happened throughout many decades in American history. One of the biggest social changes came when World War Two began. Men were shipped overseas leaving women at home to take the place of men in the workforce. Women also had to be a wife or mother at the same time. In the movie A League of Their Own directed by Penny Marshall great social change occurs in sports and along the home front because of WWII.

Some of this social change occurred in sports, especially baseball, because there were no men home to play the sport. Most men were fighting in Europe or the Pacific because of the draft. A League of Their Own is based off of a true story of women stepping up for others as well, but on the home front. This was an opportunity to show the country that women could be athletic. It was also a way for these women to help the war effort. They kept America’s pastime alive in a time when a true American sport was needed.

This is also a time when women were for the first time seen in a primary household role. Many women became the breadwinners and leaders of the family but they were also expected to be the “pretty” and “sexual”. Thus creating a double standard. A prime example of this is seen in the movie when the Rockford Peaches go to a charm and beauty school. They are taught or reminded how to sit, seat, and walk. Also, the head of the school lines all the young women up to assess their beauty. Some are beyond pleasing for the head of the school, others she tells to “thin and separate the eyebrows, there should be two.” Additionally, the players in this league were expected to still be primped and pretty during games even though they were athletes. The uniforms were not common to baseball either. The ladies wore short-skirted outfits. Many complained they could not do nearly anything in them. The women in this movie were expected to be athletes and attractive and “pretty” at the same time. This is a unique social change that occurs during WWII.

In some ways this still speaks to the sexualization of female athletes that we see today with female athletes. Female athletes are portrayed by commentators as mothers and wives. This happens before their athletic ability is commented on. It is getting better, but at the same time we have along way to go.

 

Field Of Dreams: The Movie I Watch When I Miss Baseball

Now that baseball season is over I need to get my baseball fix somewhere else. So keeping this in mind, I decided to watch Field of Dreams. It always gets to me how this movie focuses on bringing people together. This is ultimately what baseball does. Baseball is commonly called America’s pastime and it still is for many people today. In this movie, baseball is viewed as a place of dreams and a place to bring together the past and the present.

The baseball field in the movie is viewed as a place of dreams. It is ultimately the place where the eight white sox players come and finally play again. They get to fulfill their dreams of playing again, especially shoeless Joe Jackson; he is the first player to come to the field. Moonlight Graham also gets this same opportunity. This fulfills his dreams as well, even though he gives up playing on the field to save Karin. Ray, on the other hand, has regrets about not being able to play catch with his father this drives him throughout the movie in my opinion. At the end of the movie Ray gets to fulfill his dream of playing catch with his father. Also at the end of the movie people do come to the field in Iowa. They come to have their own dreams fulfilled. This is seen in the final shot of the film when a line of cars starts to travel to the field.

The baseball field also brings together the past and the present. One example is when Ray takes Terrance Mann to a Red Sox game. Terrance wrote about wanting to go there when he was little. Ray brings together this past dream with the present action of going to the game. Ray’s field also brings together the past and present. The past eight white sox and other players including, Ray’s father and Moonlight Graham come to the field to interact with people in the present, like Ray’s family. They talk, watch, and play baseball, America’s pastime.

This movie gets to me every time I watch it because it is not just about the sport; it is also about family. Baseball is something that helps my family to bond. Additionally, during baseball season it is also a topic of conversation at every family dinner. My dad and I love to pick on my mom and her love for the Orioles. Let’s be honest they are not the best and aren’t going to have a good season anytime soon. At the end of the day it is just a good way to bond and enjoy the company of family, even if we’re picking on each other.

Halloween Practice

Hands down one of my favorite practices has to be Halloween practice. We divide the team by class and create unique Halloween costumes. Costumes are always a secret until the day of practice. That does not stop everyone on the team from trying to figure out what each class is doing for their costumes. Additionally, as usual this practice is an unspoken competition. I just happen to think that my class has won every year. Throughout the past four years we have been campus security officers, the Ocean Spray guys and “rock, paper, scissors”. This year we decided to be trophies.

It was a lengthy process to transform into our “most likely” trophy form. We started by spray-painting our clothes and old field hockey sticks the day before. The day of Halloween practice the other seniors and myself met an hour before practice to slather our bodies in gold body paint. We sprayed our hair with gold hairspray and put on gold lipstick as well. As usual there was no messing around, we have been serious about our costumes every singe year. It literally did take us an hour to get ourselves looking like trophies. Our costumes would not be complete without a pedestal to stand on. We had wooden crates to stand on along with “most likely” statements. Mine was “Most likely to be putting on sunscreen.” It was fitting considering that I was always the one putting on sunscreen at every practice, even in the middle of October. Teammates gave me crap about it but hey, my face was never burnt.

After slathering gold paint on our bodies it was time to go down to the field and reveal our costumes to the rest of the team. It was a hit, just as our previous costumes were. All of the other classes did a great job with their costumes. The first-years were 101 Dalmatians, spots, tails and Cruella included. It was a cute idea; I did not think that they would be able to figure out a costume that they could do as a nine-person group. The sophomores were Wizard of OZ, perfect for their class size. The junior class dressed up as McDonalds French fries and they even had their own toppings/dipping sauces. A small sized graduate student class had to really think about what they were going to be. They ended up choosing Thing One and Thing Two. I never would have guessed the coaches outfit though. They decided to be cheerleaders, human pyramids and all.

This great tradition would not be complete without a few rounds of world cup and a candy scramble. I am really going to miss doing this with my team. I feel like in no other setting could I really go super hard on a costume. If I do know one thing, it’s that no one will top the costumes of the class of 2018, ever.