Now that it is time for me to pass the torch, here is what I’d like for you to know, #2.
The relationship between an athlete and their jersey is more than just something you have to put on to be eligible to play in a game.
One of the most heart breaking parts of an athlete’s whole career is when they have to give up that jersey, that number and move on to bigger and hopefully better things in life. After sitting in the storage room closet for a summer, it comes a time for another person to take on the responsibilities of the team and make the number you once called yours, their own.
Now that I am retired from West Alabama volleyball, here’s some things I want to say to the girl who takes over the #2.
I hope you are kind to your teammates. I hope you are constantly willing to learn new things and chase whatever goals you have until you break them. I wish that you will take advantage of the extra practices and yelling because you may not know it now, but it will forever make you better. Enjoy it. Enjoy the number, enjoy the name a crossed your chest. In one moment, it will all just be a bunch of faded memories and it will be your turn to leave the number behind. Trust me, when I wore that jersey, I thought the endless hours of practices and conditioning would never end, but here I am, writing this letter to you, way sooner then I ever thought I would.
That number has been through a lot with me. It’s gone though exciting victories, heart wrenching losses and victorious comebacks. It’s been a brand on my life for longer then I can remember. The memories I have made with teammates from all over the nation in that jersey, are what made all those 5 a.m. workouts worth it. It’s an exciting time for you to be able to have that number! You are going to meet people that you would have never met before, learn new and exciting things, and travel to places you have never knew you wanted to see. It gets exciting, especially when coach schedules an awesome preseason tournament schedule to a place you have never been!
It’s the memories where I got makeup on my white jersey when we weren’t allowed to wear any makeup (I was a rebel for a minute there, aka don’t wear makeup, you are to naturally pretty and if you don’t know that, coach will help you figure that out) and the times where it held all my tears after that five set match that just did not go our way. That jersey in your hand has literally gone through countless blood and makeup stains, sweat and tears. It’s seen every single hour of work I have put into my craft.
The #2 means more to me then you may have ever thought, because I picked it for a reason. The number should tell a story about you. Where you come from, who your role model is, or who you are. The story can be complex or short, but there needs to be a reason.
My sister was #2 and ever since I was a little girl, I just wanted to be like my sister. She was the one who always pushed me to be better in life, to believe I could achieve more then what others said I could. Then once I got the number, I decided I needed to have more of a reasoning then, “It was my sisters number,” when people asked me. I was sitting in a locker room one day and a bracelet popped up that said “I am Second.” I asked around if it was anyone’s, and they said no, they had never seen it before. That day I realized the real purpose behind my number: God had chosen it for me. Each day from then on, I played for Him first, and everyone else second, and I thank him each day for the memories I was able to make in His Glory.
Be remembered. The truth that you have to take in is that fans are going to remember the people who wore the number before you. They will ask you what happened to me and where I am at, and you may not know and that is okay. Give it a few weeks. You are going to be added to those who are remembered and your legacy will begin with the #2. It’s time for you to start making that brand for yourself with the number. It’s all about making those around you believe that whoever has to fill the shoes next will be as great as the one before, or better. Play each day with a humble heart and never, ever, disrespect the tradition of the legacy, your athletic family, or really anything you are apart of while the number is still tagged with your name.
Okay, I am almost finished. The last thing I want to touch on is play for someone bigger then yourself. Play for the local fans in the community, or the girls next to you in the same jersey. Play for each and every person in your life that has helped you get to your collegiate athletic career. Play for the little girls who are constantly inspiring to become you. Play for the girls who had to pass on the number before you.
If you don’t remember anything else from this letter, remember this: Create your own legacy, stay humble and kind and don’t forget why you are here. YOU are HERE for a PURPOSE.