Games Won and Lost, Life Lessons Learned


Jonathan Wang

Cristal Isa celebrates with her teammate after a perfect beam routine against the OSU Beavers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Max Valva, Sports Writer


Students enjoy participating in sports whether it be for a scholarship, club or for fun. Almost every athlete you encounter will tell you that participating in organized sports teaches you much more than athletic skills. One thing I’ve learned from playing sports is that they can teach you vital life lessons that will apply to almost anything you do in your life. Life requires commitment, teamwork, resilience and hard work — all skills you can gain in participating in athletics.

For many kids, their sports coaches are some of the first role models that they will have in their life. Even at the collegiate level, many athletes can credit their effort and dedication to their instructors. One of the traits coaches value in their athletes is commitment. As most athletes know, team sports are a big time commitment, even at a high school level.

Many who have played sports have had a teammate that they don’t click with. Nolan Carpenter, a member of the University of Utah hockey team, has struggled with this issue in the past but chose not to let it get the best of him.

“Sometimes in life, you have to learn to work with people you may not get along with for the success of the group,” Carpenter said. “You have to put aside all differences and focus on the common goal as a team.”

Learning to prioritize teamwork has helped athletes stay on track and is a skill that can be used later in life.

One thing I learned while playing basketball growing up is the importance of resilience. Not everything in life goes as planned, and understanding that not every day is going to be the best day goes a long way in life. Showing up to practice with a positive attitude helped me develop my skills as a basketball player and can be translated to almost everything in life. It’s okay to have an off day every once in a while, and you can’t look at everything you do and expect perfection. What keeps the most resilient athletes going is the ability to reflect on their own mistakes — and learn from them, too.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “hard work beats talent” at least once in your life. While most tend to roll their eyes at a cliché expression like this, it wouldn’t be said as much if there wasn’t some truth behind it. Playing sports and attending practice can teach people that good things happen to those who work hard and that learning a new skill is hard and takes patience.

Another lesson you can learn from playing sports is that most athletics have a huge mental game tied to them. Playing sports to your best ability takes a lot of drive but can help you gain a lot of confidence. Lots of student-athletes at the U have been able to realize their personal strengths in athletics. Elli Hudacek, a member of the women’s club soccer team, talked about her experiences playing soccer at the U.

“I’ve been able to learn a lot in athletics, most importantly, that self-confidence is everything, and you should never lose sight of your ambitions, no matter how cliché it sounds,” Hudacek said.

Sports are great for gaining self-confidence and maintaining a healthy living style. Even if you don’t participate in sports at the moment, don’t feel discouraged. There are several other ways you can take these lessons learned in athletics and apply them to your life. Things like learning a new language can show commitment, starting a new training routine shows hard work and sticking with a job you don’t like shows resilience. Even things like being a team player at work can benefit you in the future.

Going to college is not easy, and sticking to healthy habits learned in athletics will be your key to success here at the U.


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