I am sure you have the nervous jitters and are getting antsy about coming in for preseason. I’ll bet there are a thousand thoughts running through your head (actually I’m pretty positive they are because I felt the same way the summer before I reported freshman year). You are probably curious about the coach, fitness and what goes on the first day of preseason. You have no idea if you are physically prepared for running, or if you are ready to play at the collegiate level.

And, probably adding to that stress is the thought of leaving home, and leaving your comfort zone. Your hometown is your rock. You probably have spent your whole life there, knowing every part of your town like the back of your hand. I’m sure you are considered a superstar there; your name has been printed in the newspapers, and high school awards cover your bedroom walls. Coming to college is going to be a whole new starting block for you.

I know for a fact it is tough to leave your comfort zone. You are going to have to say good-bye to best friends a whole month earlier than normal and won’t be able to see them unless they come visit you or once the season is over. Leaving my family and friends was one of the hardest things I have ever had to encounter in my life. I am a total homebody and love everything about it. I was worried to enter into the college world, and if I was really ready for it. Luckily when I left my family at home, I entered a brand new family at school.

Our team is a family. We all trust each other, both on and off the field. If someone needs a favor, we always know we have someone there to lend a hand. We are a solid unit believing in every single person. We talk to each other when we have problems. We comfort each other when someone is having a bad day. We get on someone’s case when we know they should be doing a better job. We spend endless hours together during the week, yet we insist on being together all weekend as well. We all complain about our legs hurting so bad because of Coach Taylor, yet fight through the pain during fitness the next day. We are as strong as our weakest player and pull everyone along through all of our obstacles. We have inside jokes, ridiculous sayings that only our team know, and countless memories from away trips and weekends out. We have formed best friends within our team. Some have formed a sisterhood. I love every single person on this team. I love that we are a family!

Although you may miss your mom, dad, brother, sister, dog and everyone else in your immediate family, having 20 other girls with you everyday will help you get through the hardships of starting a new life at school. On that first day of school where every other freshmen is shaking because they do not know where to go or who to ask questions to, I am positive every corner you turn you will see one of your new teammates. I promise this team will help you get through the hardship at the beginning. Do not be afraid to ask questions or even sit down with one of us if you’re feeling down in the dumps and need a littler cheering up.

As a team we need to realize things will fall into place as soon as we are all together in August. We need to see this as a building block and take things one step at a time. Although you may be nervous about playing for a new coach, the bond between the girls will NEVER change. As a whole, this team sticks together.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer and are excited to be a part of our team. Work hard this summer because it will all pay off when you arrive. A conference championship and second round NCAA appearance is in the future! A great work ethic and dedication is going to get us there. Keep focused and do the best you can do. I can not wait to meet you!

Take care,

Your teammate

Throughout my career motivated individuals have surrounded me. This inspiration at times was tough to feel during the daily grind, and other times the real life energy was obvious. When our paths cross, I am proud to see that the athletes come up to me for a handshake or high five and the stories they remind me about put an instant smile on my face.

This new segment will showcase the letters that many have written, myself or the athletes and coaches that I have worked with; to share their inspiration with those we call “teammates.” As you read through the messages that are shared, please remember that what is inside you can separate you from the rest. Look around and you may be surprised how many others are in need of just a little enthusiasm to push them closer to their goals: professionally, physically, mentally, etc.

I will begin with a letter that I sent to a team that I am still very proud of to this day. No names needed. Just a sincere message that I hope can impact others to pay it forward by giving energy to those around them.

Please leave your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. How are you preparing your team, coaches, administrators, staff, co-workers, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers to have a positive mindset in both good and challenging times?