My heart is beating fast. I am staring at the office door, the blinds are shut but I know who is inside. I hear my head coach talking to one of my teammates. I know what they are talking about, and I am about to have the same conversation in a number of minutes. My heart is pounding out of my chest, and all I can think about is when I called Frank Busch to commit to Arizona. How nervous I was, and how excited I was for the future. The same emotions are coming back. How has it come to this? So much has changed in the past year, month, week, and even the past 24 hours. The door opens. Aubrey Peacock walks out the office door and I step inside to explain to Eric Hansen that my time swimming at the University of Arizona is over.
When I came to the University of Arizona I was filled with excitement. I was a young freshman with ambitions. I had aspirations in the water that I was anxious to obtain while completing a college degree. I had no idea what I wanted to do in life after swimming, but there was one thing I knew for certain; I wanted to be an Arizona Wildcat.
Arizona was even better than I expected. Amazing teammates, coaches and hot weather surrounded me all year long. Everyday was a day in paradise. I was excited for what the next four years held. I was certain that I was going to experience and be a part of the Arizona Swimming and Diving Legacy.
As a freshman I was told by graduating seniors to cherish every moment here, because before I knew it I would be saying my goodbyes. Those seniors were right, I said my goodbyes earlier than I expected.
Its strange how things work out. How first impressions get over turned, or how people evolve from one person to another.
I never thought I would leave the University of Arizona. I never thought of choosing Arizona as a mistake. I had fallen in love with Arizona and I never thought I would leave. I have always praised loyalty and I felt I must be loyal to my teammates and the Arizona name.
Seeing so many people transfer to Arizona, I never thought I would be someone to transfer out.
When my teammate, Aubrey Peacock sat me down and explained that she was going to be leaving Arizona, I was not upset, angry or sad – I was jealous. Without missing a beat the first words out of my mouth were, “Good for you.”
Confused by my emotions I began to analyze why I was at Arizona. I didn't understand why I was jealous of Aubrey. I love this place. I LOVE this team. Why am I jealous?
Since I arrived at Arizona my goals seemed to drift farther away from me. They no longer seemed realistic. It seemed that everyday I jumped into the water my goals moved farther away.
My freshman year I moved backwards. With mono, every workout in the pool just made me more exhausted. I was more tired on taper. I felt I wasting away to nothing. I should be sleeping. I need to recover.
At the end of my first PAC 10 conference meet, I sat on deck with Frank. He was confused, puzzled, at a loss for words. He didn’t understand what we did wrong. I had known I was relapsing with mono while I was tapering for conference. I didn’t tell him- what would that do? Trainers might tell me not to swim. Then all my hard work would be a waste and I would never get to compete for Frank again.
I choked back my tears as Frank racked his brain, trying to think of what he could have done differently to help me prepare for this meet. I wanted to scream. I felt horrible. I never wanted to put Frank in this place. He couldn’t have done anything different. I told him how I felt; how I was feeling all the symptoms of mono again. He told me that he believed in me. How heknew I could accomplish great things. At that moment, it was all I needed to hear. It was all the motivation I needed not to climb into a ball, quit swimming and give into this disease.
My sophomore year, Eric Hansen took over Arizona Swimming and Diving and I worked with the assistant coach Geoff Hanson. As I struggled to regain my health, I also struggled to adjust the new program.
I didn’t pick the coaches, and they didn’t pick me. There is a recruiting process for a reason; it’s a game of match making. Some swimmers work well with some coaches, while they don’t work well with others. It’s hard to establish trust when a coach takes over and you have no idea who you are dealing with. It’s especially hard because this coach has to learn how to deal with 50 new swimmers at once. I had a rough freshmen year, which didn’t make me a priority. It makes sense. If you have two broken down cars in your garage, a Ferrari and Toyota, which one do you want to fix first?
I realized it was okay to leave.
There were three of us who decided to leave, Hallie Stupp, Aubrey Peacock and myself.
We had all told our head coach the same day. We weren’t trying to gang up on him by doing it one after another. It just happened that way. We had all reached our boiling point the day before and there was no point hiding it from everyone. There was something in the air and to the three of us it was toxic.
The day we told our head coach, Aubrey called a team meeting before practice in our women’s locker room. One after another the three of us explained our reasons for leaving. I do not know how to describe the mood in that room. Every person in the room was experiencing a different emotion. A blend of sadness, forgiveness, joy, understanding, and confusion filled the room. I am not even sure how I felt. The words flew out my mouth and I had no control over them- however I don’t even think anyone was really listening. Everyone was thinking so loud no one could hear the words being said or sounds in the room. This meeting was really hard to sit through, but it made me so happy. How could something that made me cry so much feel so good? I was happy to leave.
I had lost all faith in myself during my sophomore year and was not sure if I even wanted to swim. I had no plans. After I finished my last exam I realized that for the first time in my life I had no obligations to anything. I was not enrolled in school, and I was not a part of a team. I had nothing to do but pack by bags and say goodbye to some of the best people I have ever met.
For the first time since I arrived at Arizona I am excited about swimming again. I have allowed time for the wounds to heal since deciding to leave Arizona and I am working on round two of the NCAA recruiting process. I am going to go to school in the states; I am going to swim in the NCAA, and its not going to be at a top five program. It is going to be something completely different than my experience at Arizona. This is not because I didn’t like Arizona- I loved it there. But just because I like oranges doesn’t mean they are the only thing that will make me happy; I like apples too.
I am not trying to recreate my time at Arizona. I am looking to start new. I am looking for a place to move forward.
It doesn’t matter if people don’t believe in you. As long you can find a way to believe in yourself nothing else matters. If you ever find yourself losing faith in what you can accomplish, it does not mean you have made a mistake- it means you need to make a change.