Why I Chose Not To Play a Sport in College

I want to enjoy college as a student, not struggle through it as an athlete.


Photo submitted by Kate Pilgreen

My team and I hold the Irish Cup my sophomore year.

Kamryn Rogers, Print Editor-in-Chief

I have been getting recruited to play basketball in college since the beginning of my junior year. Towards the end of my junior year, more emails and letters were flooding into my house as I raised my discus school record to 127”7’. Some of the most notable schools recruiting me were Smith College, Babson College, Benedictine University and Eastern New Mexico University. If all this was happening my freshman year or sophomore year, I would’ve jumped at the opportunity to play basketball or throw discus at these National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II and Division III schools. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the physical, emotional and mental drain that sports demand doesn’t fall in line with my aspirations for the future.

For years, basketball literally was life. I ate, slept and breathed it. I remember when I first started playing club at the end of my 8th-grade year. I was so scared. I didn’t want to be judged by my teammates or by their parents or really by anybody.

As I got older, club basketball became more of a nuisance than a hobby. I remember constantly playing four games in one day and having to crawl up my stairs because my knees were numb in pain thanks to my tendonitis. I hated it. The pain and politics. I used to have a dream of playing in college, but it took a toll on me in ways I couldn’t see until my season was over beginning in junior year. 

I lost confidence. I lost friends. But mostly, I felt like I lost myself. I started to hope I would get injured during club season just so that I didn’t have to play. Or sometimes I’d hope some of my other teammates would play bad so then my coach would play me more.

My Club team and I, Next Level Eclipse, excited after winning a tournament in Chicago.

Telling my dad that I didn’t want to play my junior year was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. To the outside person, I know this sounds silly, but the amount of time and money spent for me to play for three years could’ve easily covered both me and my sister’s tuition here at Sion.

After I finally told him, he was nothing but understanding. I thought he would be mad but instead, he was proud of me for being mature enough to make that decision. Not playing club this past year allowed me so much freedom and I know I made the right decision.

Club basketball was not all bad, though it might sound like it. Since my dad was the one who traveled with me to all my tournaments, I became extremely close with him and I’m thankful for that every day.  I also gained a lot of good friends that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and they were the ones who got me through club season. Even though I will never get back those weekends I missed with my friends, I’m glad I had the experience. It taught me a lot about myself.  

Photo submitted by Doris Rogers
My team and I hold the coach at the time, Kate Pilgreen, after a hard-fought game.

How I started throwing discus is a funny story that my throwing coach tells best. When high school basketball season freshman year ended, there was only a two-week gap between the beginning of club tryouts. Knowing that my sister was planning on doing track that year, I decided to sign up to be a manager since she was my ride home and I had the free time. My coach saw my size and my athleticism and was dumbfounded that I had the audacity to come to practice every day and let “all that potential go to waste.”

Sometimes just because my curiosity is sparked, I watch YouTube videos titled “A Day in the Life of a Student-Athlete” and I just think about how miserable they look. Weights, then class, then practice, then class, then film. What’s the point? 

Me and my teammate, junior Shannon Karlin, after a tournament. We are still teammates on Sion’s team.

Structure and I don’t mix well. Even when I have one day that was similar to one I already had that week, I go insane. I like to mix things up but it’s hard to do that when I know every day, Monday through Friday, I have practice from 3:50-5:50. It’s like a block in the road that I just can’t push through.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe sports teach very valuable lessons about discipline, teamwork, communication, work ethic, but mostly about yourself. They can reveal your talents, your shortcomings, and what you are and aren’t willing to do. I knew playing the five position in basketball at 5”10’ wouldn’t get me any DI scholarships and I know my current personal record in the discus event wouldn’t get me any either.

It’s important for me to go to a school with strong academics and strong student life. I want to have the full college experience and that includes being in the stands, instead of on the court.