Learn to love big changes

When the idea of change comes up, people are typically in two camps. Either people love change,or they hate it.

I for one get excited about the prospect of change, but once the change occurs,I find myself a bit nervous,and an unpleasant transition period usually ensues. This is especially evident when someone moves cities and has to start over. They need to make new friends, get used to a new environment, and ultimately prove themselves to a new group of people.

This is the reality for young emerging athletes when leave home and move away to go play their sport at the collegiate level. Typically,the prospect of playing their sport at the next level is a dream come true,and they are very excited, but when the change actually occurs,it can be a trying time.

I remember leaving home for the first time;I moved from Medicine Hat all the way to Lennoxville, Que. I was fulfilling my dream of playing football at the collegiate level. I remember sitting down with my parents and explaining that I wanted to move to Quebec. Their reaction was one of initial hesitation, but ultimately,they were supportive.

So my Dad and I got on the plane and made the trek across the country. There was an immediate culture shock as I had never experienced theQuébécois culture. Nevertheless, my excitement continued as I registered for classes, moved all of my belongings into my dorm room, and met some of my new teammates.

Then it came time for my dad to leave. I remember standing outside of my residence building as he drove away. Tears welled up in my eyes,and the change became real. I wept for at least an hour that day. Keep in mind that these were the days before cell phones,and the only way to chat with my parents was to either call them long distance, which had an astronomical price tag,or to call them collect. This is what I did:I sat in a pay phone booth outside of my residence building once or twice a week and chatted with them.

Over time though, things got better. I met new friends, found a love for the Québécois culture, and excelled in the sport that I loved. I never look back at my experience playing football in Quebec and have an ounce of regret. Sure,it was a trying time, but I grew a lot as an athlete and overall as a person.

My reality back in 2002 is about to become a reality for a lot of local athletes who have recently graduated high school. Right now,there is a ton of excitement as some of the athletes have signed scholarships and are maybe moving a short distance or maybe even a long distance like I did. I want to encourage these athletes to stay the course. Even though it may be difficultinitiallymoving away from all that you have ever known, I can assure you that you will not regret it. You will grow immensely as an athlete and a person.

Catching up

Nate Stark, a former Alberta Sport Development Centre athlete here in Medicine Hat,moved away to play baseball at Colby College in Kansas last year. He stopped by my office the other day and told me about all that had happened since he left home. I could do nothing but smile as I saw the excitement in his eyes. He has grown so much as an athlete and as a person. We are so proud of him and all that he has done and accomplished!

Cory Coehoorn is the coordinator of the ASDC — Southeast at Medicine Hat College and would love to chat with you or anyone who knows an emerging athlete that could benefit from our services. The ASDC-SE offers services to emerging athletes regardless of their financial circumstances. He can be reached via phone at403-504-3547or via email at ccoehoorn@mhc.ab.ca.

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