Don’t Call it a Comeback

Just as you started to miss me! You didn’t think I would be gone forever, did you?

It has been exactly three months since I have blogged. And it was a three month hiatus I think I really needed. My last post before my extended blogging vacation has actually been described by some as my funniest ever (and by some, I mean my mom and dad). While I was proud of that post, its not really indicative of my true mindset at the time. I was ten days away from my move-in at JMU, and I had honestly never been more terrified in my entire life.

Those of you who me know how unhappy I was at USC. And sometimes I’m a little too polite about my experience there. Quite frankly, it sucked. So transferring was an obvious, and easy, decision, but it was terrifying nonetheless. What scared the absolute crap out of me, was the idea that I may not be happy at JMU. In my typical dramatic fashion, I viewed JMU as my last chance at a happy college experience. Transferring to a third school would be an extreme burden on myself and my family; so JMU was pretty much the end of the line. If I hated it, I would just have to suck it up and be unhappy for the next three years. And that absolutely terrified me.

Everything was perfect in Richmond. I had just had the best summer in my short yet awesome nineteen years. Part of me just wanted to stay in Richmond forever. I was happy, I was comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, I had plenty of friends… Why change? A life spent forever at home would not be such a bad thing, right?

However, I am lucky enough to have parents who love me enough to let me go. They knew how important it was for me to find myself, to find my place. I did go Harrisonburg, and through a lot of tears, I went on my way.

Three months later, I can honestly say that transferring to JMU was the best decision I have ever made. It hasn’t always been easy; I’ve found that transfer students are stuck in a terribly awkward position. You are not a freshman. You are not part of a large, starry-eyed group who is experiencing college for the very first time. Yet, you are not an upperclassmen. You do not understand the school, at all. And when you hang around real upperclassmen, they easily pick up on your cluelessness and assume that you are a freshmen. But you aren’t. Instead, you are left alone to figure out this big, new scary place by yourself. Luckily for me, I have found a big group of fellow transfer friends. And slowly but surely, we have figured JMU out. Almost.

I have pretty much just jumped right into everything. I am a newly initiated member of Alpha Sigma Tau, I have written a few articles for the school newspaper, I have gone to every home football game, I tutor middle school students, and I have a babysitting job. So hopefully now you understand why I haven’t written in three months.

I still miss my family, but I am only two hours away now and its much easier. Tucker and my family come to Harrisonburg all the time, and I have done a good job balancing my life at home and my new life here.

I have made so many new friends, I have become very involved, and when I walk around campus, I feel like I belong here. And thats something I honestly couldn’t say at USC. I am very, very happy.

So now that I am finally getting settled in, I hope to begin writing on a regular basis again. I have a lot on my mind, and have had a lot of ideas the past three months, so you should be expecting a long, crazed rant soon. I actually have not told a single person at JMU that I have a blog. So if this your first time reading this, you’re probably surprised. When I first meet someone, I’m usually pretty quiet and reserved. It takes me a while to open up. But when I do, I never shut up. Ever. My blog is pretty representative of that. To my old readers, thank you for sticking with me! I’m glad you didn’t forget about me 🙂

Until next time…

xoxo Katie

P.S. To those of you who have asked, yes I totally copied the “xoxo” from Gossip Girl.

Saturday’s a Rugby Day

Describe myself in five words? Easy.

Kind. Hard-working. Dramatic. Passionate. Ambitious. 

This is a story about my ambition.

You may have read my previous post talking about my year at USC. Let me refresh your memory… I was on the cross country team first semester and I really didn’t enjoy that. It put a lot of pressure and stress on me. Come Winter Break, I had decided to quit the cross country team and was considering transferring to JMU. But I before I made that decision, I really wanted to give the second semester a good go. I needed to experience USC without cross country and get involved around campus.

I considered joining all kind of organizations. Singing groups, sororities, interest clubs, even the Quidditch team… I attended the “Organization Fair” to get signed up for some of those groups, when one sign really caught my eye. It read…

USC CLUB RUGBY

Rugby was never a sport I paid attention to. I mean, I knew it existed but I didn’t know a thing about it except that it was supposedly “a mixture between soccer and football.” Well I love football. There aren’t many options for women to play football but here was the next best thing right in front of me! Plus, now that I was no longer running cross country, I needed some sort of competition in my life. And I imagined how totally badass I would seem to my friends back home… So on a total whim, I was signed up for the women’s rugby club.

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Don’t I just scream “Rugby Player”?

Now this may not seem all that crazy or ambitious to you, but you must understand that I am not a big person. This isn’t customary for a woman to do, but I’ll throw it out there that I am 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weigh 115 pounds. That is not big by any means. Rugby is a sport for strong, muscular, athletic women…unlike myself. It is a sport in which you tackle one another while wearing no sort of padding. It is a sport that features the “scrum,” which has been described as the most dangerous play in sports. Its difficult to describe so if you click this link, you can experience it for yourself. I am NOT a person who was made for rugby. I mean, my legs look like they might snap in half with one good tackle. But nonetheless, I was determined to succeed in rugby and was stupid enough to believe I actually could. I have a lot of endurance, which I knew would help me in long games, and I’m pretty quick. I somehow justified this as a formula for rugby success.

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First day of rugby practice. Honestly, don’t I look stupid?

I showed up on the first day of practice as eager as a kindergartner on the first day of school. Well that eagerness died pretty quickly, because I have never felt more out of place, stupid, and childish in my entire life. I was a girl among women. Luckily for me, the girls on the team were incredibly welcoming and helped me ease in to the sport of rugby. Plus there were several other newbies who had never played before, so I wasn’t alone. I was actually encouraged after the first day of practice!!! I succeeded on the running drills, and we just did walkthrough tackling drills. It was nothing I couldn’t handle, which for me felt like a huge win. I skipped back to my dorm with so much joy, because in my heart I believed that a new superstar was born.

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The only picture taken of me in my rugby uniform. So intense.

Well then came full-on tackling. And games. And I very very quickly realized that rugby just wasn’t my thing. I was placed at the position where the smallest girls play: wing. Basically they catch the ball and run. That’s it. I barely played, and when I did play, I barely touched the ball. I was given the nickname “Twig” by my teammates, which is not a bad nickname to have in other aspects of life, but it is when you are playing a sport in which it is important to be big and strong. I did not make a single tackle all season. I SUCKED. And sucking at rugby was a hard pill for me to swallow. I was used to running, where I was on the Varsity Cross Country team for four years straight. I was used to being one of the best athletes at competitions, not one of the worst! Plus, the thing I was most excited for- looking like a badass to all of my friends back home- was also a complete and total fail. They did not find my rugby playing cool, they found it stupid. I found one particular exchange with a friend of mine rather amusing:

Friend: Why on Earth did you decide to play rugby?

Me: I just wanted to try something new.

Friend: Do drugs!!!

He was kidding, of course. But its not unreasonable to think that some of my friends thought that doing drugs was a better idea for me than playing rugby.

I officially retired from rugby on February 25, 2013 after one month in the sport. I did not intend on retiring this early, but I was forced to. Earlier in the night, we were practicing as usual. However, that night we had to do a particularly frightening tackling drill that scared the living hell out of me. We all formed a line (tacklers), and one person would stand a few feet away facing the line (tacklees). The person at the front of the line would then tackle the loner and then stand in their position facing the line. The person who had just been tackled would move to the back of the line. Hopefully that made sense to you, because as I wrote it, it didn’t really make sense to me. Anyway, my turn came and I did a horrible tackle that did not move the tacklee an inch. My turn to tackle finally came, a moment I had been dreading. We were specifically instructed not to juke but to take the tackle head on. I was scared. And rightfully so, because my tackler delivered one hell of a tackle, and I went down hard with my neck and head snapping back onto the ground. I popped up pretty quick, but the tears were already flowing and I felt horrible. Soon after, I was diagnosed with a concussion. And that was that, my rugby career was over.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that upset about it. I wish it had happened in a different way, because the concussion sucked and it got me really behind in my classes, but I was glad to be done with rugby. It just wasn’t for me. That being said, it wasn’t a total fail. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I think it was really good for me. First of all, it gave me a bit of a gut check. I also learned a lot about a really cool sport, and I really enjoy watching rugby now. I got to watch a lot of that really cool sport because I spent most of my time on the bench. But most importantly, it introduced me to a really awesome group of girls. Let me tell you, we had some really good rugby players on our team. These girls could kick some major ass. But even so, they were so welcoming to me and treated me as an equal part of the team, even though I totally wasn’t. They made practice fun, and never put any pressure on any of us newbies. They never made us feel like a bad player (even if we were), instead they were always trying to help us improve. The girls I met on the rugby team were the only thing that kept me wanting to stay at USC. I probably never see any of them again, but I will always appreciate what they did for me.

So thats my story of ambition. I tried something I knew I would totally suck at, I did totally suck, but I kept on trying until I screwed up my head (sometimes my neck still hurts from the damn whiplash). I wrote this post to be inspiring, but I’m sure most of you all will find it funny. Whatever. I could kill all of yall in rugby. Consider it a challenge 😉

Until next time!!!

xoxo Katie 

The Transfer Process

I really wanted to write today, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. I eventually decided to discuss something I’ve mentioned a few times here, my transfer from the University of South Carolina to James Madison University.

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My first JMU football game…

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My first USC football game…

In my initial college search, I actually narrowed it down to USC and JMU. I loved both, but USC won out for a few reasons. I planned on running NCAA cross country and track, and I was pretty enthralled at what competing at an SEC school had to offer. I also drooled over their nationally-ranked football program and big school atmosphere. But I think one of the biggest factors in my decision was the new adventure USC would bring. My dad went to JMU and he still bleeds purple & gold, so I grew up constantly going to JMU for athletic events. Harrisonburg, Virginia is under two hours away from my house, it was a quick trip that we made many times. JMU was a big part of my childhood. USC on the other hand, was much more of a mystery. Columbia, South Carolina is six hours from my house. I wanted to explore uncharted territory and start an adventure of my own. It basically came down to going back to my roots vs. starting something totally new. And you know what I picked in the end.

So where did it all go wrong? Well, it turned out that the SEC athlete thing was much too cutthroat, Columbia was much too far, and I missed my family much too badly. The football was the only thing that was as amazing as I imagined, but that wasn’t enough to make me happy. The only thing that kept me sane was having my boyfriend, Tucker, there. But when he made his decision to leave USC, I feared for my future there. I didn’t feel like I had a place among the school. I didn’t have friends that I felt I could be my real self around. I didn’t think USC really was the place for me anymore. However, I was not willing to accept that thought. I had spent so long thinking that USC was my dream school. I had always imagined myself completing my education there and living as a proud Gamecock my whole life. I pictured myself loving my four years there, proudly becoming a USC graduate, and then return with my children decked out in head to toe garnet and black. I just wouldn’t let myself believe that maybe that wasn’t my destiny. I always told myself to just wait it out, any day now I would start loving it.

Returning to school following Thanksgiving Break was absolutely miserable. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt so sad. I cried throughout airport security because I just really did not want to return. When I was dropped off at my dorm building, I immediately retreated to the couch and continued my tear-fest. I pretty much laid there all not feeling sorry for myself. That was the night I filled out a transfer application to JMU. Filling out that application is when I first accepted the whole thing, I knew I was not happy. Even still, the application sat untouched for another month. Christmas Break is when I finally broke down to my family, admitting that I was unhappy at USC and had considered transferring to JMU.

My family was just awesome throughout the whole ordeal. They were extremely supportive of me in making my decision. They helped me consider all of my options and let me know that the decision was ultimately mine. Together, they helped me decide to make some changes second semester. I quit the track team and got involved with other activities to get a feel for the school from a different standpoint. The second semester was definitely better, but I still found myself desiring a feeling of home. And that’s when I realized what I should do. I came to USC to find an adventure, but all I wanted was a home. Throughout my life, JMU had always been like a second home to me. My family and a good amount of best friends were constantly visiting. Now, a good amount of my friends are students there, and my family is still visiting. After being at USC for a year, it suddenly seemed so obvious that JMU was were I belonged.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret attending USC in the slightest. Picking USC in the first place was a risk, and one I’m glad I took. I had to try going and running there. I firmly believe that if I had attended JMU from the beginning, I would have always wondered what could have been at USC. Now I know it wasn’t all that, and I can happily and confidently attend JMU. I am so excited for my future there. There are so many opportunities for me to succeed and have fun. I also have so many friends already attending whom have been so supportive and excited about my decision.

I think it is important for me to write about my journey as a transfer student. Making the decision to transfer can be difficult, I know. Forever I was afraid to commit to the decision, for fear of looking like a failure. A lot of people feel this way but now I know that nobody thinks of transfers as failures. Everybody I have talked to has respected me for making such a decision. Some people have even commended me for being strong in a hard situation. I hope that by writing about my experience, others considering transferring can read and use my story to help guide them in their decision.

Obviously we don’t know if my transfer was a “success” yet, but we will soon. I added a countdown widget to my sidebar so we can track the days until I move in to JMU. I am extremely excited for this next journey in my life, and I’m excited to share it with all of you 🙂

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Go Dukes!

xoxo Katie