Senior forward Olivia Edwards (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) of the St. Mary's College of Maryland field hockey team discusses the meaning behind wearing the St. Mary's uniform. Edwards also serves as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
As everyone knows, leaving home for the first time and entering college is a nerve-wracking experience. I remember my first few days of freshman year, excited but panicked just thinking about preseason. I could have been better prepared for what I was about to face. I thought I had trained. I thought I was in shape but I learned, quickly, that I had never felt exhaustion until that fateful August preseason. I questioned whether playing field hockey was worth my inability to climb into bed at night. I thought it was a joke that I would ever feel the need to sit in freezing cold water until I could no longer feel my legs but this sentiment rapidly faded. The ice bath and that little rubber duck became my saving grace. However, what I did not realize was in these short few days I had met the people who would become my family… and I don't say that lightly.
As many student-athletes can agree, being on a team is something unique. You share a bond that cannot be replicated or explained. I came to St. Mary's excited that I would not have to face initial obstacles alone. That unlike other freshman I would at the very least know my teammates. At this point, I was just excited that I had someone to call to eat with, however, being a Seahawk rapidly developed into more than just having a faithful dinner date. Wearing the St. Mary's uniform influenced my entire college career. The Seahawks I met during my first week of preseason, I now call my closest friends. The second you put on the St. Mary's uniform you become part of a family. A family that isn't just concerned with the amount of goals you score or how fast you can run but with your success. They become your No. 1 supporters. This is true for every member of the SMCM athletic community who I have had the opportunity to meet. We share a mutual respect for one another because we are all striving for the same goals.
St. Mary's student-athletes are truly held to that title. It's not easy to be a student-athlete. I was not just training to pick things up and put things down. I was expected to perform in the classroom with the same level of devotion and commitment as on the field. The faculty and coaches that I would consider fellow Seahawks have become my mentors, whether they know it or not. I have been given the opportunity to continue playing a sport that I love with people who have pushed me to be all that I can be. Who have not let me quit because the going gets tough. The St. Mary's athletic community forces its family members to become leaders both on and off the field and I have benefited tremendously from the opportunities that I have been exposed to.
I was lost when I started here at St. Mary's and I still don't feel as if I have it all figured out but I think it is important to remember that I can pay it forward and be that support system for new members of our family. It is because of everyone who wears a St. Mary's uniform that I have been able to become the person I am today. I am lucky to be a part of a community that encourages and pushes me to be the best that I can be. Believe it or not, I am going to miss waking up for morning fitness practices or those long bus rides that seem endless because at least in those moments I was a part of something larger than myself. I was a part of a team, a community that made me proud of my accomplishments. Hawks fly together!