You could probably say that I was born to be an athlete. At my one-year checkup, the doctors told my parents that I had advanced motor skill development, meaning my motor skills developed faster than other infants my age, and that there was a high chance of my having an interest in sports when I got older.
From the time I was able to kick a ball, I was playing football. Every year, I would go to football summer camps. I played for my school’s football and netball teams. I played squash. I participated in almost every school-related track and field competition from Year 4 through the end of high school. Outside of school, I played in the Cayman Islands Football Association’s U17 and Women’s League, and I played for the Cayman Islands Women’s National Football Team for several years.
I had come to the realisation that although it was true university coaches wanted good athletes, what they really wanted were good athletes with good grades Lesli Tathum
I was quite fit in my pre-teen years as a result of long and intense training sessions — three times a week. Although I was super fit — I had a “six-pack” and all — training took a toll on my grades as I was about to enter my examination years. I was overexerting myself, working out hard for long periods of time, getting home late and not being able to eat healthy and nutritious food, complete homework or get enough sleep.
I had to sit down with my parents because I knew that my priorities had to change; I realised that I had to sacrifice my fitness for my education. No, I did not entirely drop sports, but I had come to the realisation that although it was true university coaches wanted good athletes, what they really wanted were good athletes with good grades.
This isn’t to say young athletes should focus only on their books and nothing else. It is about finding a balance between school and the sports.
I also focused more on school because I learned that it takes only an injury to ruin a sports career. I watched my older sister tear her anterior cruciate ligament in a game, two weeks before going away to play in a college showcase. She had university coaches from University of South Florida, Georgia State University and several others attending the showcase to watch her play. The chance for my sister to be scouted by a university was ruined. However, because my sister also excelled in academics, she was able to attend Pennsylvania State University.
By focusing on my studies, I was accepted into all six universities to which I applied. I chose the schools mainly based on the programmes they offered in my area of study, and then their football programmes. I currently play for the University of King’s College women’s soccer team in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the 2017 University of King’s College Athletic banquet, my hard work both on and off the sports field was acknowledged when I received a Certificate of Academic Excellence for achieving a grade point average of 3.7 or higher while being a varsity athlete.
The most important thing to me as a varsity athlete is knowing how to strike the balance between school studies, sports and rest, while also maintaining a healthy diet.