For the Love of the Game

I spent the first half of my athletic career at Andover, trying to fulfill expectations that I had for myself, and expectations that I wrongly thought that others had for me as well. I convinced myself that I needed to follow in my brother’s footsteps and attend a top division one school, for “my sport,” soccer (he plays hockey). Only in my upper year, after many conversations and lessons I finally accepted, did I finally remove that chip from my shoulder and start playing more for the girls standing next to me, for the school and coaches that I was representing, and because of my love for competition and the sports I was playing.

I made the varsity soccer team as a freshman, but the first three years of my soccer career at Andover were plagued by injury. During the scattered moments when I did find myself on the field, I was often drowned in frustration, putting far too putting far too much pressure on myself to perform and unable to meet the goals that I had set for myself.

After my first fall, on and off the field for GVS, I went out for the basketball team. After just a few weeks and a sprained ankle, I was cut from varsity. I was incredibly disappointed, and was instantly ready to quit and just focus on soccer. My parents, naturally much wiser than their fourteen-year-old daughter, saw it as an opportunity.

I was the only freshman on the junior varsity team that year. There was no pressure from anyone, including myself. It was solely for fun and to improve my confidence as a basketball player. I excelled and I had a blast doing it, but unfortunately it took me a few more years to put the two together.

My upper fall was especially difficult. As the soccer season went on, I seemed to get less healthy instead of better, my frustration was immense, my commitment to getting better was non-existent, and my attitude and contribution to the team was lacking. I had lost sight of things.

Only after an incredibly difficult, but necessary, conversation with my coach about my progress, did I get healthy again. I finished off my upper season playing the way I knew I was capable of, leading me into basketball season with just the right mindset. I remained healthy that winter and focused on just having fun being on the team and playing, whether I was on the bench or not.

I spent that spring playing soccer outside of school trying to get recruited, but my expectations and goals for myself had changed drastically since 9th grade. I knew that I wanted to continue to play soccer as competitively as possible, be happy while I did it, and be challenged academically at the same time. I found that balance in Hamilton College, a division three NESCAC school that I will be attending this fall.

My senior year in basketball and soccer was everything that I wanted it to be. I had the most fun I had had in four years with those two teams, and by the abrupt ending of my athletic career with the conclusion of the basketball season, I decided wanted to be take part in a team sport again in the Spring. So I went out for softball, a sport that I hadn’t played in five years. The team welcomed me with open arms, and it’s been a good experience to do something athletically a bit more out of my comfort zone.

My experiences with Andover athletics have taught me that the only way to play sports, as cliché as it may sound, is for your love of the game, of the teammates playing next to you, and of the school you are playing for, because that is when you compete to the best of your ability and have the best time doing so.

And a special thank you to every coach, athletic trainer, teacher, and staff member that has taught me that along the way.

_Katie Kreider is a four-year Senior from Boxford, Mass. She co-captained the Girls Varsity Basketball and played on Girls Varsity Soccer and Girls Varsity Softball._