What I Wish I Had Known
WAVERLY NEER - DISTANCE - UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY / CULVER ACADEMY (IN)
Waverly was a High School and NCAA Division I All-American. She was the former High School Indoor 5000m National Record Holder and the 2011 3000m Champion at the USA Junior National Championships. She has Personal Bests of 9:08 - 3000m, 15:37 - 5000m, and 33:26 - 10000m and is currently a professional runner for the NJNYTC.
Here are the small things you should know: pack lots of socks, you're going to do laundry a lot less than you anticipate. Don't wear your lanyard around your neck, that is unless you want everyone to know you're a freshman. And, save your per diem from travel, that money will add up over four years!
Alright, now that we have those things out of the way, let's real talk. You're nervous; you don't know what to expect. That's OK! Here’s advice that will help you find your way: Know what has made you a successful athlete. You don't need a new toolset now that you're in college. Recognize your strengths, and hold true to them. Self-confidence goes far in your training, your racing, and your relationships. Don't strive to be any of the athletes you see around you. Recognize what works for them, may not work for you. Accept that difference, and don't get sidetracked by the noise and extras.
Ask questions, you're not on your own. Remember your coaches and teammates were once in your shoes. They are eager to help and trust me, they want to see you succeed. See yourself as an investment. Sure, there are some things you'll need to figure out on your own. Welcome to the next level. But if you are struggling, don't let too much water rise under the bridge. You only get four years to become great. Talk to your teammates, find your way to your coach’s office, and listen! It's amazing how much you'll learn when you accept that you don't know it all.
Strive to be a teammate and competitor you would cheer for. No matter if your own workout was great, or not so great, give your teammates a high-five at the end. Tell them, “nice job”. Maintain a positive attitude, and be a team player. Positive or negative, the people around you will recognize your actions, so make sure you're building a reputation you are proud of. No matter what shape you’re in, injured, or healthy, work to always positively contribute to your environment.
Lastly, do something once a week, outside of running and school, that makes you happy. Something small, it doesn't have to be crazy but pick up a new hobby, an outside interest, something to keep challenging yourself. There will be times when school isn't going well, or when running has been put on the back burner due to an injury. In these times, you'll learn to lean more heavily on your other interests to maintain your happiness and identity. In this first year of college, strive to be a well-rounded person. It will pay off in the end! Besides, this is the time to explore. To invent yourself. Don't waste the opportunity.
Dear Freshmen Self, it's going to be a fun, crazy, sometimes smooth, other times bumpy road. Don't let the highs become too high, nor the lows too low. Things will happen that you may never have predicted. But the most fantastic part of it all is that it's entirely your own story and journey. You'll share the road with a collection of interesting and inspiring people. But remember, you always get to choose your route. And it starts now... ready, set, go!