By Morgan Mammosser
So, where do I start with my athletic career? Well.. my first word was ‘ball’ if that counts. Since I can remember, I’ve always been coached, in the gym, and around all different types of sports due to both my parents being college athletes and now high school coaches.
In high school, I was a four-sport athlete participating in volleyball, basketball, track & field, and softball. I was the only girl in my class to receive all 12 varsity letters. Not to brag or anything, but I was a great athlete in high school. However, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do for college. I had no idea where I wanted to go to school, what I wanted to study, if I wanted to play sports or not.. none, zip, zilch, NO IDEA! Quite frankly, even looking for a school to attend scared me. Do you want to know the awful part behind why it scared me so much? Because then boyfriend was going to a state school, and I wanted to go with him. Obviously, my mom (bless her heart for her knowledge) wouldn’t allow me to follow him. Now, that’s not saying don’t follow your significant other, but mothers have a way of knowing things before we ever do… (insert eye roll here). And my mother saved my ass by telling me no, to say the least.
So, here I am in high school, not having a clue what I want to do with my life. Do I want to play sports? Well, I could since I’ve gotten several scholarship offers to pursue my choice of sport. Do I want to stop playing and just focus on my career? Well, I would actually have to know what career field I wanted to go into (fun fact, I changed my major 4 times in college). Eventually, I decided that I was going to go to the local community college in town. Before I committed to playing volleyball there, I heard constant negativity about people who attend community colleges – “Why would you go there? You’re better than that.” “Why don’t you leave the state and do something with yourself?” “Junior College is just an easy way out, why would you do that?” … Everything far and in between. But honestly, it was the best decision I have made thus far in my life. It saved me so much money, I lived at home with my parents (hello home cooked meals), and I played a sport that I LOVE on a full-ride scholarship. I was able to receive a degree at no cost to me – I actually made money those two years by working full time on top of going to school and playing a sport.
Now, here comes the next big life question I had – where do I go from here? Do I want to continue to play or do I want to enjoy a life without athletics? I took forever to decide, and I originally decided to end my collegiate career after my sophomore year. However, here comes my mom (god bless her HEART)! She told me to just try it out, so I did. I knew I was good enough to make at least a Division II team. She told me to contact some schools and have them come to my last spring tournament for my community college. Lone behold, a couple days later, I received a call from the head coach at Illinois State to be a walk-on at a Division I school. ME, A DIVISION I STUDENT-ATHLETE?!?!?! I didn’t know how to handle myself! I was SO PROUD that I didn’t give up on my athletic career just quite yet. I loved every single second of my junior year at ISU – my teammates, the travel, the practices, lifting, and not to mention the free gear ;)
Then, BOOM. I dislocate my knee cap my senior year during the off season. Well, now what? I went through 10 weeks of rehab and rejoined the team for summer practices, but to be honest, I wasn’t happy. After my injury, I lost my passion for playing volleyball. I just didn’t feel the same on the court, and it crushed me. A few weeks after I quit the team and changed my major for the fourth and final time, I realized that I just LOVE sports and could never give them up completely. Cue an internship with the athletic department at Illinois State! This sparked an interest in my dream career field – becoming a coach, working in a fitness atmosphere and owning a business.
Now, I know I had a ton of ups and downs with my athletic career, but the main thing I would tell my younger self is “Don’t doubt yourself…ever.” If I doubted myself in high school, I would have never gone on to play at a community college where my volleyball team won the first conference championship since 1992 and went to Nationals for the first time ever! If I doubted myself after community college, I would have never become a Division I student-athlete, met my best friends, interned for a stellar athletics department, and found my true passion in life. If I doubted myself about changing my major, I would have never fallen in love with what I do for a living now. Despite all the things telling me to run in the opposite direction, I embraced change and the challenge. I embraced the uncomfortable feeling, and I made it work for me. Yeah, maybe I didn’t know what I wanted at first, but I found my way there eventually due to my participation in college athletics.
All these things happened in my life for a reason, I believe that with my entire being. I know I was put on this earth to challenge myself and to change others for the better. I feel it in my soul that I am meant to be a coach and a role model for student-athletes everywhere. That’s why ICANFLY was created by Elven and I. We want to make sure that student-athletes are noticed and valued. We want student-athletes to learn from our mistakes and to show them that they can do anything they put their minds too! Being an athlete is one hell of a feeling, and I wish I could have held onto it longer. But I get to have the next best feeling – being a coach and mentor to everyone that’s now in my shoes that I once wore.
If you take anything away from this post, take away this – don’t ever be afraid of challenges. Don’t ever follow someone else’s dream for YOU. Understand and know in your heart that all your decisions you make as a student-athlete now – where you attend school, if you continue your athletic career or not, being recruited, etc. – will shape you into the person you’re going to become.
“Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it. When you are in competition, you have to leave everything on the field of competition. You can’t hold back and hope that you have enough for tomorrow. The best competitors leave the arena with no regrets and with nothing left in their tank. That’s the type of effort you have to give to every match.” – George Halas. Whether you’re on the field/court or in the classroom or handling the things life throws at you, you must give it your all, all the time. Being an athlete is one of the greatest gifts on this Earth, and you better take advantage of it while you can because it goes by in the blink of an eye!