As I stop and think about the time I have been involved in high school athletics, I believe I have been greatly impacted in a very positive manner. I have learned an abundant amount of lessons from athletics, but the main thing that I have taken with me so far, is the value of teamwork and how to build and be a part of a strong team. Participating in high school athletics has helped me develop the skills to identify other people's strengths as well as my own. Each teammate brings her own assets to the table. When we develop our own assets and strengths and accept that we all excel in different areas, we are all able to depend and lean on each other to build a strong unit.

Three skills that I believe have been my biggest takeaways from athletics are relationship-building, communication, and positivity. First and foremost, you can’t win or play as a team if there’s no communication. Communication is the most important aspect of any of the sports I play. Whether we’re talking about our goals we’ve set, the play we are about to run or having a pep talk before the game, nothing can happen if we don’t communicate. Alongside communication comes forming relationships. The most essential relationships that need to be formed are with your team — the girls you step on the court with day in and day out. To make the team the best it can be, the bond with the girls has to be strong. I have also realized that it is so much fun to build relationships and make connections with our opponents. One of my absolute favorite parts of my high school athletic career has been meeting so many different girls from all around the state and making all sorts of connections and friendships with them.

Though forming relationships and using lots of communication are two very important skills, the one overarching skill that can be applied to both of those to make an all around better atmosphere is spreading positivity. I have learned that attending practices and playing in games is so much more enjoyable when everyone comes in with a positive attitude. This has made me realize that I always want to strive to be the most positive and encouraging person and teammate I can be to make my teammates and peers feel happy and welcome.

Effective communication and team building, forming relationships, having positivity, and making connections are all lifelong skills that I have been able to develop through high school athletics. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in high school athletics as part of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. These opportunities and experiences have helped shape who I am today and will help me with all of my future endeavors.