SENIOR YEAR: AUDREY GAMBLE'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE LAST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL

The Life of a Student Athlete: A Bittersweet Time

High school is a time that is chaotic, stressful, and nerve wracking. Add a sport or two into the mix and you have multiplied that by three. I’ve played sports my whole life and I absolutely love everything about sports. This year, I currently co-captain the varsity basketball team alongside two of my favorite people, Lily Waters and Megan Wright. The three of us have been playing basketball together since suburban when Megan and I were sixth graders and Lily was in fifth. We get along great and work well together, our relationship has always been like that. After only two weeks of the season, the team is establishing a lot of chemistry and everyone has been hard at work. It’s been a great start. With all of the amazing energy and attitude surrounding basketball, there is one thing that no one tells you about high school sports. It’s simple: want to play a sport? Cool, you should probably stop having a social life for a while.

Picture this: it’s past 9 p.m. and you are just getting off the bus, back from a tough road game and all you want to do is eat an entire loaf of bread and go to sleep. But alas, this is not possible, because you have around an hour of history homework to get through before you can call it a night. This is the reality of high school athletes. The cycle for me is eat, play basketball, do schoolwork, drink copious amounts of gatorade, and sometimes sleep. The same is true for many high schoolers like me.

Practicing for two and a half hours every day and having games regularly takes a lot out of me and my teammates, physically and mentally. In the midst of all of the hard work and time my teammates and I put in to basketball, we make time to have fun with each other as well. One thing that separates our team from the rest is how great we all get along. I have lovingly been granted the title of ‘Mom’ by my team, which they call me more than my real name. My teammates are in reality more like family to me, so the nickname makes sense. It’s especially relevant when I have to remind a few teammates to eat a snack before practice, or to remember to bring their ankle brace. Ah yes, I love “my children.”

The season may only be two weeks in, but it already feels bittersweet. The first week is always the hardest, being that it’s when we do the most conditioning, so I assumed that I would feel overjoyed to never have to do it again. However, I ended up feeling quite the opposite. This is the last season where I’ll be able to do wall sits while singing the ABC’s with this group of girls, people who I’ve become extremely close to in the last few years. It’s my last season of painful lunges across the court, and early morning practices during Christmas break.

I still remember my first moments on JV as a terrified seventh grader, nervously walking past the locker rooms four times because I had no idea where they were. I had my best friend Megan (one of my co-captains) by my side then, and we’re still pushing through basketball together to this day. We’re in our sixth year as a part of Gateway’s basketball program, and it’s been a wild ride the whole way through. We’ve witnessed the heartbreaking disappointments, the endless hard work, the mental breakdowns, and the triumphant victories. This season will hopefully be a part of that last category, as I have good feelings about our team as a whole. In past years, this team has dealt with tense relationships, conflicting attitudes, and lack of chemistry. This year, however, is a much different story. I don’t think that I’ll ever be a part of a group that is this tightly knit and dedicated ever again. We pick each other up on bad days, we encourage each other to achieve greatness, and overall, we work through every obstacle we face as a team. That includes cram studying for a test and finishing last minute homework.

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And Oh, Did I Mention College?

Photo of Audrey GambleSo I see you've stumbled upon this blog. Welcome on board my journey through senior year at Gateway. Here's a little bit of background information about me, in case you want to know. My name is Audrey Gamble, I was born and raised in Huntington. I play basketball and softball for the school, I'm in the school band, and I'm up to my elbows in school work and extra curricular activities. Oh, and I have an obsession with pineapples. (This is obviously an important fact that you need to know.) My high school career has led me to the final sprint that is senior year, so follow me on this great adventure if you want to see where I end up. Also I'd like to think I'm pretty entertaining, so you should definitely keep reading!

I’ve reached the point of my high school career where stress levels are through the roof and my emotions consist of a mixture of uncertainty and excitement. Friends and family continuously question what I want to do with my future. The pinnacle of a teenager’s life, senior year. The year in which we decide what we will be doing for the rest of our lives. It’s funny to think about: being eighteen years old, barely into adulthood, and here I am making one of the most important decisions of my life.

I expected my senior year to start off slow, and gradually become more involved as the weeks went on. This expectation did not turn out to be a reality in any way, as I jumped into my last year of high school at full throttle. For the first two and a half months of senior year, my brain was focussed on college, applying to college, researching college programs, and oh, did I mention college? Every free block I came across during school hours consisted of me being holed up in the corner of the library, laptop in hand, working on filling out the dreaded common application.

Before I continue on, let me just say that the wonderful people of the high school guidance office have the most patience of anyone I’ve ever met. I was in Mrs. Case’s office a minimum of two times a day for a month or so, asking countless questions about every college application related thing possible. Which brings me back to the applying process; it is nerve-wracking and stressful, but at the same time it is exciting and rewarding. When I began to fill out the Common App. as we call it, this whole “I’m leaving high school” thing became real. It became official at that point, that I wasn’t going to be in this place forever, that new adventures awaited me beyond the horizon.

One of the only things between me and deciding my future was the ever-so-intimidating Common Application college essay. I won’t get into the essay in too much detail, but I will say this as a piece of advice for any current high schoolers: try not to overcomplicate and overthink it. It doesn’t have to be about a life-changing experience or some great tragedy you overcame. I wrote about how I struggled with Algebra in my Junior year and overcame that obstacle. As long as your topic is true to yourself and is something that you are proud of yourself for, write about it. College admissions counselors want to see determination and character in your essay, there’s no point in trying to be someone else in a personal essay.

From my very recent experience, the college application process is different for every student, as every student has a different schedule, different interests, and different levels of persistence. I started my college applications in the first week of October, and I had applied to all six of the colleges I was interested in by October 25th. “Oh, so you’re done then?” The answer to that question is a big fat nope. Now is the waiting game for decision letters and the time to apply for every scholarship in existence. Senior year seemed like a very distant thing about 6 months ago. Now it’s here, it’s real, and my future is slowly coming together in a beautifully chaotic turn of events. Many things are still up in the air, but soon I will have my path laid out. The last step of my journey into the future will be to take that path and run, even though I suspect that I’ll end up creating a new path somewhere along the way.

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The Life of a Student Athlete: A Bittersweet Time
And Oh, Did I Mention College?