Caitlin Dorsch ~ Co-Editor in Chief
Such a simple phrase, “You just got to have fun.” But, honestly, I found this to be one of the hardest things for me to remember throughout some games and practices over my four years on the women’s soccer team at the University of Lynchburg. Sometimes, at practices and games, I would find myself so stressed and anxious to make that one save as a goalkeeper that I forgot to “just play.” The coaching staff told me multiple times to “just play” throughout my years, yet I would always think, All I ever do is play. What do they mean?
And, finally, in my senior year, I figured it out. To “just play” meant to have fun. And, that meant to let loose and play without thought of anxiety or stress.
I still remember the moment where I found complete solace in playing. It was in Costa Rica when my team and I were playing against the Costa Rican Women’s National Soccer team. During this game, I was able to play against some of the most passionate and technically gifted women’s soccer players in the world. I saw them “dancing” on the ball as they played. I heard their consistent and clear communication amongst each other. And, that was the moment when I was playing where it felt like I was playing completely out of my own body. I had no worries. I was just playing to play the game that I grew up loving.
Once I felt this joy in playing soccer again, something amazing happened. My internal confidence shot up many notches. I began to trust myself because I was just having fun. I was letting the game come to me, rather than trying to force anything to occur.
It was crazy to me; letting go was something that was just so mind-boggling for me. I mean, letting go so that I could have more confidence seemed to be a paradoxical concept for me. But, yes, the coaching staff was right. Once I finally began to “just play” and to “just have fun,” not worrying about the future or potential opportunities to make a mistake, that was when I began to play better.
But, something more than just playing better, I gained confidence. And, feeling that confidence is what has transcended outside of soccer. This confidence, originally kindled through sport, found itself in every aspect of my life. I was more confident in my academic career and in my social life than I had ever been before. And, I truly believe that spawning this confidence is propelling me into a new, exciting stage of my life post-graduation from the University of Lynchburg.