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BALL FIVE: Athletics have shaped my life, whether I knew it or not

I have been influenced by sports a lot, sometimes without really choosing to be.
For someone who is attending school for anything but athletics, I sure have ended up being significantly influenced by sports of all kinds. Whether I knew anything about them or not, sports have made their way into my life despite being an ag communications and art student.
Like most people, I started playing sports at a young age. My grandpa Bamsey ensured from a young age that I learned to play golf with an appreciation and respect for the sport.
To this day it’s one of the sports I know will stick with me for my whole life. I couldn’t be more thankful for his great lessons on swinging a club and patience. Also, the “waka waka” dance, reserved only for the most impressive drives and putts.
Horseback riding is another sport close to my heart. My grandpa Simon had me hooked on horses from a young age and shares my love for them. And as much as I’m sure my dad initially didn’t want to have horses on our place, I think he’s come around since I was four and begging for a pony. I recall one of my selling points was that I would read books to my pony just like I did for my little sister.
I tried basketball in fifth grade and ended up deciding it wasn’t for me. I kept apologizing to anyone I bumped into, although to this day I can shoot free throws well. It’s still such a fun game to watch and I enjoy cheering on the Jacks.
I love volleyball to this day, as I played it for a few years on JH and JV team in Gettysburg until my significantly taller little sister started playing my spot at the net. I was honestly happy to see her play.
At SDSU last spring, I ended up doing design for the baseball team via one of my editing classes. It started off as something I was doing purely for the extra points with my professor, but I took it very seriously and had fun getting to try something new and meeting the coaches.
I also was a community assistant, called an RA at most universities, last year and will be again in Binnewies Hall. The first floor, where I lived and will be living again this fall, is the home to mostly freshman athletes.
The girls that lived in my wing introduced me to soccer, swimming and diving. Even if I’d never had the desire to attend a swim meet before, I learned the pool is the best place to be on a weekend while the wind chill is below -10 degrees!
Now I’ve found myself in this internship, going back to my roots covering the Stampede and learning more about baseball and softball than I’d ever needed to know before.
There have been times in my life where I would never have given sports so much credit for the things I do today. There were times where I felt my favorite sports were lesser than others simply because some believed they weren’t sports.
After all, you don’t run in golf and the horse does all the work when you’re riding, right? That was the mentality of some, at least. I think my sore muscles always felt differently.
But I don’t feel unsure about the sports I took up as a kid anymore. If learning more about swimming, baseball and reflecting on my own sports has shown me anything, it’s that there’s so much more to being active than burning calories or gaining muscle, although those can be things to focus on.
I saw an article last week about a young lady I was in horse club with. She just had a lesson with Lisa Lockhart, one of South Dakota’s star barrel racers who currently sits second in the world standings. I remember when that same young lady asked me questions as if I was Lockhart simply because, at least at the time, she looked up to me.
Those moments have stuck with me and taught me more about loving your sport than anything else.
Having fun, making memories, playing respectfully, and being a good leader and role model for the athletes who come after you is important no matter what you play.