I can remember as a little kid, going to the varsity sporting events at the local high school. I can remember always thinking, “I want that to be me!” I want to be the one on the court that everyone comes to watch or the one in the paper as this weeks “Athlete of the Week”. As a young athlete I dreamed about the pep rally’s and the community events I could finally be at. I dreamed about wearing my varsity jacket down the hallway. Now, as a junior in high school I don’t get any of that and that’s okay. I get something better.
For everything I don’t get, there is something I get instead. Sub in courts for mats, newspapers for Facebook posts, pep rallies for podiums, varsity jackets for gis, and its basically the same thing. Okay, not exactly.
Instead of having pep rallies I have the pre tournament classes at the gym. As the tournament date approaches classes get more intense, you start talking strategy, you talk up the whole weekend of going and staying in the hotel. That alone is enough for me. I don’t need a crowd of people cheering to get me pumped up, just talking about the matches gets my adrenaline going.
As an athlete in any sport you have to have a support system in order to succeed. In Jiu Jitsu you don’t have the student section in the stands cheering you on or the group of girls you’ve went to school with since you were five, but you have your family, teammates, and coach standing behind you. You have the people that travel hundreds of miles with you just to watch you compete. That’s a pretty awesome support system.
With Jiu Jitsu you don’t get a varsity letter, but it’s not just a four year thing. Jiu Jitsu isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. When you join, you aren’t just joining a team, you’re making a lifestyle change that will stick with you until you die.
Everyone may not know that I have a tournament because I’m wearing the same shirt as all the girls on my team down the halls like they do, but they know because I’m the only one wearing a shirt from my gym and I’m the only one with my hair in cornrows. I get so many comments in the hallways when people see my hair in braids, because that’s when they know it’s go time.
I don’t get the typical high school sports experience, but I wouldn’t trade what I have for anything.