Dear Freshman Olivia,
Let me just start off by saying collegiate athletics are HARD!
You are never fully prepared for the rigorous training schedules and academic demands that come with being a collegiate athlete. I can go on and on about how hard it was for me to get to where I am today, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.
I had heard about the possibility of having the coaches that recruited you leave, but I never once thought that would happen to me.
So when I got a call three weeks before school started explaining that the coach who my parents and I had put so much faith in was no longer going to be at the school, I was devastated. Should I leave? Should I stay? I ultimately decided to stay because there was so much more to the college I chose than just a coach. My first piece of advice when selecting a school is to never base your decision solely on a human being who can leave whenever they want. There is more to collegiate athletics than good coaches.
“I ultimately chose to stay because there was so much more to the college I chose than just a coach.”
Although coaching plays a huge role, you must also be an advocate for yourself. During my sophomore year of college, my athletic career was in complete turmoil.
I was running slower than I had been before college. Stopped making the travel party by outdoor season because I wasn’t considered good enough. Felt I wasn’t coached to the capacity of my other teammates because of my “genetic potential.” It is important to understand that this reference is used in all collegiate sports, not just track.
Be prepared to conquer judgment on your genetic potential. Coaches attempt to guess how well you can perform based on genes such as height, weight, and overall build; but there is no real way to guesstimate anyone’s ability. If you have talent, you have talent. If you work hard, you work hard, end of discussion.
Through it all, I continued to ask to do more, and I would go to the track and practice drills on my own. I had endless discussions with my head coach about how to become a better athlete. Even vocalized my strength to everyone I came in contact with, even my teammates.
Deep down I knew that I was better than what I was putting out. Although my confidence was shot, my determination was not. Little did I know that my saving grace was on its way in the form of a new coach.
Before I even stepped foot on the track my junior year, I met with my new coach and expressed everything that I had gone through my sophomore year.
I didn’t want him to judge me based on what he had heard, but rather give me a fair shot. He did just that. It may seem that even your coach is against you, but you must stand firm in your ability and be your own cheerleader. Also, don’t ever be afraid to get your parents involved! It is amazing how a parent/coach phone call can change your training environment.
I am humbled to say that I am the second-fastest hurdler in the history of the University of Oklahoma track and field. Because of my diligence and determination, my new coach trained me for success on and off of the track.
“I am humbled to say that I am the second-fastest hurdler in the history of the University of Oklahoma track and field.”
Now as I look back, these are things I wish I would have known my freshman year.
I hope you’ve learned a little bit of what you can expect as a college athlete. You should pick a school based on where you want to go, work hard, and establish good relations with your coaches and teammates.
Now as I look back, these are things I wish I would have known my freshman year. I have become a mentor to my teammates, and hopefully, I have become one to you!
Olivia Haggerty is a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma. She is the second-fastest hurdler in OU history. Olivia is pursuing a career as a physical therapist. You can find out more on Olivia on Instagram
Want to share your athletic stories or something you learned during the journey? Click Here so we can make that happen!