Often our teammates become like our second family. Sometimes we don't realize this until they're no longer in our lives. Hope Culberson is a junior at Irma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School and a member of Bridge Lacrosses' Varsity Panther team. I've interviewed her about her experience playing lacrosse after quitting for an entire season.
Culberson has changed her perspective on lacrosse over the years and has ultimately grown to love the sport, and the team she plays with. To her, everyone on her team is her family. Simply attending practice is the highlight of her day. She genuinely enjoys going to the field three times a week, but why did it take her this long to commit herself to the sport? When asked Culberson said:
"I came back mostly because I missed the people. There were a lot of people that I was close to that I didn't get to see anymore so it was pretty easy to convince me to come back. Also, I stopped playing because I couldn't find the time for it and I didn't have those obstacles this time around so it was perfect timing."
When asked about taking a season off and joining the team again she said, "Yes, I actually did quit after my first year because I was having trouble committing fully to it but in the end, I was convinced to come back by friends who also played for Bridge and Coach David. I joke that I'll quit again often but that's not going to happen because I secretly like it here. It's also not a place where you can just cut ties with the entire program. There are always going to be people calling and checking in on you even if you decide not to ever play lacrosse again. They care more about YOU than what you can do with a stick."
For Culberson, taking this time off was a huge lesson for her. She understands, now, that being part of her team is one of the best things in her life. She often regrets not having joined earlier, such as during middle school, and regrets leaving in the first place. The support system that Bridge provides her with, the friendships she's gained, and the mentors she's learned from have molded her into a strong young woman. Like she said, "Bridge has also made me more conscious of what comes after high school. Obviously, I won't be here forever but I am a lot closer to figuring out what I want out of college and how to get there." This team is the backbone of many student-athletes careers after high school and after lacrosse. Although Hope does not wish to play at the collegiate level, she's aware of the hurdles Coach David would go through just to find her a team if she did wish to play. She credits the opportunities Bridge has given her for making her conscious of not wanting to play a sport she would not be completely happy playing in college, and that's okay.
When she first joined Bridge Lacrosse, she was very convinced she would not be going back at all. Her very first time on the field she went home sore, in pain, and confused about how the game worked in the first place. Coincidentally, her first-day playing was the first day of fall conditioning so one could only imagine how she felt after. When asked why she decided to join anyway she said, "I obviously stuck with it in the end and it taught me that on the field and in life energy is contagious. Everyone feeds on each other and if we aren't bringing any excitement then it will show in the way we play. It isn't enough to go through the motions, your body AND mind have to be in the game. I really knew we were a family when our season was cut short but we still met through zoom calls to stay in touch. Then I really realized how much I love the people I am surrounded by because I missed them more than most of my classmates. That's also when I realized how much Bridge touched all of their lives because the thought of leaving brought many of them to tears."
As for after high school lacrosse, Culberson wishes to attend a four-year university with a good business program and moderate climate.
VYPE-U wishes her the best of luck on her journey to college and beyond.
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VYPE U talks with Angela Salazar about her journey through recovery and her overall experience playing soccer for the majority of her life.
Ninety percent of student-athletes report that they have experienced some kind of sports-related injury throughout their athletic careers. Not only do they experience injuries but 54% of them also report that they have played through an injury. These statistics not only show the sacrifice most student-athletes are making every time they play their sport, but it also shows how dedicated they are. One student-athlete who is a part of that ninety percent is Angela Salazar.
Angela Salazar is a junior at Rockwall High School who is driven and has dedicated 13 years of her life to soccer. Currently, she plays for the Rockwall Lady Jacket Soccer team but has played in multiple teams, all at different levels. Aside from soccer, she is the trainer at her school and would describe the experience as, "eye-opening." Throughout the thirteen years that she has been playing soccer, she has grown, not only as a person but as a player. To Salazar, soccer has impacted her life in so many ways. She has met so many different people that have impacted her and will continue to do so even if they don't currently play on the same field. Playing soccer hasn't only been about getting as skilled as possible; it's been about gaining experiences and friendships that positively impact Angela. To her, the most exciting part about playing soccer is the adrenaline most student-athletes experience. Not only does Salazar get excited about practice, but about anything that allows her to be on the field. When she realized she was pumped to be even near the field, she realized soccer was her destiny.
Throughout the years, Salazar has failed and succeeded, as everyone does, but the biggest thing she has learned is to push herself. Her teammates drive her, but without her own motivation, she understands nothing will ever be accomplished. While she played club soccer for Dallas Kicks, she didn't push herself 100%, and looking back she regrets not doing so. Salazar acknowledges that she wasn't as successful on that team because she wasn't pushing herself to grow and get better. Now, she pushes her limits and has been more successful than ever.
Although Salzar has played for countless teams, she believes Coach Edgar of Dallas Kicks Soccer Club has molded her into the player she is today. Her Soccer IQ would not be where it is today if it weren't for him. He was the coach that made her believe she was good enough and skilled enough to play soccer at a higher level. Without him, she would not be the soccer player she is today.
Playing sports come with tons of good but also some downsides. Most athletes are prone to some kind of sports-related injury in the span of their careers. There's nothing worse than having a season-ending injury that causes an athlete to do physical therapy instead of training to become a more skilled athlete. Salazar had a very similar experience when it came to her knee sprain injury. For most of the season, she was working on exercises her trainer advised her to do in order to get better. When asked about her experience she said, " No injury is easy to get through but I just did all of the stretches and exercises that I was given by the athletic trainer so I could get back on the field as fast as I could. Going through my injury did change how I played slightly in the case that sometimes I am more cautious about how I go for the ball because I do not want another injury." With most injuries, the mental challenges always get the best of students. Nobody wants to risk getting injured again, let alone the same one. Thankfully, Angela has never wanted to quit playing because she understands that she could not live without soccer.
When it comes to being a student-athlete, the student part will always come first, as most coaches say. Taking academics seriously is a major part of being able to play a sport in high school and in college. Most competitive schools also require academically strong students, so it's important for student-athletes to do their best when it comes to their sport and academics. When asked about her ability to balance being a student and being an athlete Salazar said, "It is pretty easy to balance both practices and being a student because my practice is actually my first period of the day. At times it does become difficult because of the amount of homework I have that week but other than that it's pretty easy."
As for her future, Salazar aspires to attend the University of Texas at Austin to study Kinesiology, and eventually apply for the Army Baylor DPT program in order to become a physical therapist.
VYPE-U sends her the best of luck in all she does.