What getting involved in university sports taught me

Over and over again I have heard the phrase “Do what you love”, and university life in America can do just that; it can provide the opportunity to do what you love on a level that you want to do it.

Imagine this, 16 people on the ice interacting and moving as one, seamlessly transitioning down the glassy surface with no effort. Well, that is synchronized figure skating! I started figure skating at the age of 4 but fell in love with synchronized skating when I was about 12 years old. Upon applying to college, I knew I could not leave skating behind and that I wanted to challenge myself by continuing pursuing a sport I love, but at a level that I wanted. NCAA Division I sports can feel overwhelming and if you commit to that level, you do not have the luxury of a flexible schedule like a club sport can offer. My practice and competition schedules were set in the sense that they were mandatory, but I still had time to join other clubs, have a job, and enjoy the beautiful city I attend college in.

I always emphasized that the point of going to college was to receive an education, and while I still believe in that, being a part of a team sport is an experience I will never take for granted. Participating in a club sport can offer a balance between your school and social life and introduce you to people you never would have met otherwise if you attend a large university like I do. My figure skating team consisting of 20 women represents 9 different U.S. states and 3 different countries. Regardless of our backgrounds, the moment we get on the ice, it is our job to act as one, and that is exactly what we do. While the cold air of the rink is quite refreshing, so is taking a break from the sometimes crazy U.S. campus life. Every college student needs an outlet away from the school work and a club sport can offer just that!

If you are interested in playing a club sport, remember that you still may have to miss a class or reschedule an exam. Most if not all professors are extremely understanding of you missing class for your sport, as long as you take personal responsibility for the missed coursework and keep open lines of communication. Know when your assignments are due and get them done before that deadline. Also, make friends in your classes! Not only is this a great way to make new friends, but they can also help you with class notes if you do have to miss a class. There are so many different resources at a university that can help you keep a balanced lifestyle.

No matter what job you have, at some point or another, you will have to work on a team. The skills you learn playing club hockey, lacrosse, or volleyball, can directly translate to a professional career track. I am thankful to be surrounded by 20 women who challenge me each day to be a better version of myself both on and off the ice. My college experience would not have been complete without participating in a club sport and I encourage you to try out for a team or start your own if you want an unforgettable experience!

An intern at the Fulbright Commission in Brussels, Kendall Grace is a rising senior at Boston University majoring in International Relations with a focus in Security Studies and Foreign Policy. The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the views of the EducationUSA Advising Center or of the U.S. Department of State.