When I made the decision to commit to playing field hockey for the University of Waterloo, to say I was excited is an understatement. I was ecstatic to be spending the next five years as a Warrior, and thought it was going to last forever.</p>
Five years. You get five years — only five seasons — playing the sport you love for the school you have so much pride to represent.
As an 18 year old “kid” entering your first year of university, five years seems like an eternity. The seniors all warn you, “it flies by,” and you chuckle thinking they’re just old. Then, in the blink of an eye, that’s you. You’re the senior. You’re saying those same things to the rookies, shaking your head as they chuckle at you. Realizing those five years really did fly by.
With nerves and excitement, day one with the team comes and goes. You survive, yet you don’t feel completely comfortable. Just two months earlier, back at high school, you were the senior. You led the way and your confidence was unwavering. You hope to find your place on the team quickly, prove your worth, and hit the ground running. Yet, just when it seems things are falling into place, when you’re getting comfortable, confident, and finally playing the way you know you can, your first season is over.
One down, four to go.
Second year comes and you can feel it’s going to be different, better. You have less to prove, you’re trusted but you also have no more excuses. The “feeling it out” period is over. It’s time to start performing and just when you do start performing, your second season is over. Almost faster than the first. Although, it still feels like you’re just getting started, your five years are almost halfway gone.
Third and fourth year the expectations are raised. You may have earned your spot, but the pressure’s still there. You’re expected to play your best, every week, every game. These two seasons fly by. Each has its own highs and lows, but in both of these years, things stay relatively familiar. You’re no longer a rookie, and not yet a senior. You’re in a comfortable place. You think it’s never gonna end.
But that’s the irony. This comfortable place means the end is looming. In a short time, you’ll be the senior. You’ll set the course for the next generation. It is a role that most are excited for, but one that means you’re on the last page of this chapter of your life.
Finally, fifth year arrives. The one you never thought would come. Just one more season to write your story. One last opportunity to achieve all the goals you’d set for your time as a Warrior. It’s your last shot at a championship, at creating a memory with your teammates that tops all the other you’ve made in your time here.
You play each game like it’s your last. Soon, it is.
It’s something indescribable to pull on a jersey knowing it’s the last time you’ll play for that name on your chest. You want it to be the best game of your career. It’s bound to be one of the most emotional.
That game is often one your teammates play for you. To show their appreciation for all you’ve done in your time here.
Before the first whistle, coach probably gives you an extra pat. A subtle gesture thanking you for your five years and reminding you to make this last one great.
Sixty minutes, 70 minutes, three sets won, or maybe just one 100m dash, and it’s over. Five years, gone.
From one graduating athlete to another, I hope that each of your “lasts” was as unforgettable as your “firsts.” I hope each of your five years were memorable. I thank you for all you gave to your sport, to your team, to your school.
To those of you in your first four years, cherish your time. You may think us seniors are crazy saying that five years flies by, but it truly does.
It’s not easy being a student-athlete. There are many challenges. But through all the highs and lows, it’s one challenge that has given me memories that will last a lifetime and friends to share those memories with.
Thank you, Waterloo Warriors, for five of the best years of my life.