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A Competitive Athlete's Journey: Every Great Story Has An Ending (All-Access)

A Competitive Athlete's Journey: Every Great Story Has An Ending (All-Access)

"BC Eagle Athletes: All Access" publishes first-person stories from some of Bridgewater College's finest student-athletes. A senior capstone project by communications major Annie Sullivan, it is a platform where Division III college athletes let their voices be heard. Learn about what makes each of these athletes a unique entity to the Bridgewater community!

For the final piece to be added to the platform, as a senior on the Women's Lacrosse team, I decided to write my final thoughts on becoming a retired collegiate athlete as my season ended not too long ago. It is a time filled with many mixed emotions, and the best way for me to come to grips with them is to write it all down. If you're a senior athlete, a former athlete, or fan, it is my hope that you can relate and enjoy this piece's purpose!


Where do I even begin? Is there ever really the right way to say goodbye to a chapter of your life that you don't want to let go of just yet? How do I talk about a passion that has consumed me for almost two decades of my life? How do I put into words the immense gratitude I have for being fortunate enough to play the sports I love for the past 17 years of my life? How can it really be over already?

Sometimes, it's hard to find the words to express the way you're feeling. My mind is a mess right now. My emotions have been all over the place. Just when I think I've got it together, I find myself holding back tears. I thought I knew what to expect, and I thought I would be able to handle it. But, I never imagined it would feel like this.

I know that every love story comes to an end. My athletic career has come to an end. So far in my life, I haven't experienced a love greater than the one I developed for playing sports. It's impossible to prepare for the last time.

I laughed and sang with my team on the bus ride for the last time.
I got pumped up with my team in the locker room for the last time.
I heard the echo of our screams as we left to go warm up for the last time.
I shook hands with the referees and opposing team as a captain for the last time.
I heard my name called for the starting lineup as I ran through the tunnel for the last time.
I stood on the field for the national anthem, with shaking knees and sweaty palms, for the last time.
I huddled around my coach for some final words of wisdom before the game for the last time.
I screamed at the top of my lungs and cheered "WE WILL" with my lacrosse family to start a game for the last time.
I stood there anticipating the whistle and first draw for the last time.
I tried to take in every moment of the game, the good and bad, and played until the final whistle for the last time.
I looked at the scoreboard, fighting my emotions, and got in line for handshakes for the last time.
I took off my uniform, took off my goggles, took out my mouth guard, and unlaced my cleats for the last time.
I looked around at my teammates and my coaches taking it all in for the last time.
I hugged my teammates and my athletic trainer, eyes glazed over with tears, for the last time.
I glanced up at the stands to see my biggest fans cheering me on for the last time.
I stood on that field... FOR THE LAST TIME.

They say it's not supposed to be easy to talk about something for the last time. If it was, everybody would do it. It's sad. It's scary. You don't really know what to do or how you should feel next. All you really know is that this beautiful and wonderful phase of your life is over and all you have left is memories. These are memories that you'll tell your kids about one day. They are memories that you'll think about in a year or so, and think WOW I MISS THAT.

I'll miss rolling out of bed at 5:30 a.m. for early morning practices.
I'll miss the hard offseason workouts that pushed my team to our limits.
I'll miss the moments where my body wanted to give in, but I just kept pushing.
I'll miss the countless hours of study hall.
I'll miss the team film sessions studying our opponents to the very last detail.
I'll miss the coaches that inspired me and constantly showed me my potential.
I'll miss the coaches and teammates that pushed me to get better every single day.
I'll miss the success, the failures, and the struggles in between.
I'll miss practicing every day.
I'll miss game day pep talks and pregame warm ups.
I'll miss the big wins and the heartbreaking losses.
I'll miss all the time in between these milestones that allowed me to make friendships that will last a lifetime with my teammates.
I'll simply miss it all.

As much as I may have complained sometimes, being a student-athlete was the best years of my life. There's not too many times in life where you can say that you got to represent something bigger than yourself. But, I had the privilege of doing just that. I held my head high every single day as a Bridgewater student-athlete. It was never a right, but a privilege. I took part in making history. I was a part of a team that continued to make a statement in our conference year after year. I helped to set a standard for our program. And, I can't wait to see where the Bridgewater women's lacrosse program goes in the future.

It feels so weird to say this. But, as a proud BC women's lacrosse alum, I wish my fellow teammates and this program nothing but the best. You'll find me sitting in the stands cheering you on whenever I get the chance. It's going to be hard to take my place up there on the bleachers. But, it's that time. This isn't goodbye. It's see you later.

To my fellow seniors, I hope that this gives you a little bit of closure. Because, it's my hope that it will do the same for me. A chapter of our life is over, but our time as a student-athlete will stick with us forever. These fleeting moments of happiness and sadness we will never get back. They are history. But, that's what is wonderful about it. We can get together years from now and talk for hours about these memories because they meant so much and are engrained in our minds like a tattoo. These moments shaped the people we have become. They have prepared us to take on the world. They have prepared us for the future in whatever we choose to do.

It has prepared me to continue writing an epic life story. I hope you continue to take the time to read it along the way. Thanks for all the endless support and love. It's been appreciated more than you'll ever know. Once an Eagle, always an Eagle!