The power of university sport is unlimited.
Sports have been the driving force behind every major point in my life. I developed my reading skills through reading box scores and game stories as a child, and I learned my basic geography skills based on the locations of sports teams. Every major moment in my life can be tied in some way to sport, and I can unequivocally state that university sport means the world to me.
University sport provides a perfect combination of events that, when combined, make for inspiring stories on and off the field. University sport continues to be a medium in which amateur athletes can express their desire and passion for their sport. For some, the next step will be representing their nation on the international stage or making it to a professional league and signing a big contract.
For most student athletes though, they will never see international competition. There are no professional teams or big contracts waiting for them at the end of their university careers. For them, university sport is the highest level of competition they will ever reach. But that doesn’t stop them. They show up every day, whether it’s 6 a.m. fitness, a practice late at night, or a weekend game. They endure long bus rides, greasy fast food, and for some, surgeries in order to play the sport that they love one last time.
They still do whatever it takes to compete. To the university athlete, it’s not about the money, and it’s not about the fame: it’s about leaving it all on the field every weekend. I’ve seen athletes, some of them friends that I’ve known my entire university career, battle broken bones, surgeries and concussions. Each time they get knocked down, they get back up. University sport is their chance to go out on top.
What’s even more inspiring is how communities come together around university sports teams. At each game, parents will fill the seats and community members will gather. They will be ready to cheer on their son, daughter, or favourite player one more time, because they might not get another chance to do so. From the opening play until the final whistle, the fans cheer. Whether the team is winning by a large margin or losing terribly, the fans still cheer. There are no fair-weather fans on the sidelines of an Atlantic University Sport or Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association match-up.
That is what makes university sport so great. For some student athletes, it’s just the beginning. For most, it’s the end. Regardless of the realization that their career is coming to an end, they’ll put their bodies through another major surgery. They’ll take that one last bus trip. They’ll put on their uniforms one last time.
When they grow old, they’ll tell their children and grandchildren about how they didn’t make it to the Olympic Games or the big leagues, but how in their last moment of glory, they gave everything they had and went out on top; even if they didn’t win.
That’s what university sport means to me.
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