Four years go by fast, and looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made my senior year of high school to become a student-athlete at Albion College.
Two weeks ago, my final game on the men’s soccer team came to an end as we came up two points short of making the MIAA tournament. My eyes swelled up as I walked off the field for the last time with my teammates. It was hard to fathom the time had finally come.
As I sat on the bench taking off my guards and shoes, I received countless hugs and handshakes from my teammates, my coaches and parents. I got a lot of ”thank yous” and “congratulations” on completing a four-year career, but none of those could really ease the pain I was feeling.
I wasn’t upset about losing. I wasn’t upset about failing to make the postseason. I was upset because my time with my teammates was gone. Just like that. No more practices with them. No more blasting music in the locker room after wins with them. But I did have one more bus ride home.
Following suit, the bus ride wasn’t an easy one. I tried to act normal and have fun with the guys, but I was reserved to my thoughts for the majority of the bus ride. And the thought that kept coming to mind was how proud I was to be a part of this team and program. How proud I was to be a Brit.
During my time in the program, we never finished better than fifth in the league, but this year was different. This team showed something special that no team showed in the previous three years. Resilience.
We fought our way back into fourth place after dropping to seventh place with only five games remaining. Things didn’t go our way in the last game, but I couldn’t be prouder about where the team is at right now.
This team can contend for a championship next year.
My pride for Albion doesn’t stop with the men’s soccer team, though. Our athletic department as a whole has made tremendous strides since I first stepped on campus.
Paul Lewis, Albion senior, won MIAA most valuable runner and was the first Albion runner to do so since Jim Dow in 1965. The men’s swimming team beat Kalamazoo, who at the time was ranked 17 in the country. Football is playing for an MIAA championship. Men’s lacrosse just missed winning the MIAA championship in just their fourth year of existence. And both the volleyball and women’s soccer teams made tremendous turnarounds and continue to rise.
But those are just the on-field/on-court achievements. Attendance at sporting events has drastically increased this year. School spirit is up. And a group of students started the #BritsVsEverybody trend that’s caught on and seems as if it’s here to stay.
We have an athletic director who cares and truly believes better athletics can lead to better academics. We also have a president who organizes school spirit days and provides transportation to away games for students.
Albion is a special place, and I can honestly say I didn’t fully understand that until my senior year, but it’s better late than never. I may not ever put on the purple and gold again, but the memories I’ve made and people I’ve met will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Pound purple pound, and I will always be proud to be a Brit.
Photo courtesy of Albion College Sports Information