Chapter 52: CAT AND MOUSE – ROOKIE: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer
When you play club or high school soccer, there tends to be a cat and mouse arrangement with the rules. The coach is the cat and the players are all mice and the rules only matter if the coach catches you breaking them. That won’t be the case when you join a college program that takes itself seriously. In a college program with a strong culture, everyone is responsible for guarding the cheese.
You aren’t stepping into a team; you’re stepping into a culture. In this culture, the rules matter. They matter to your coaches and yes, they even matter to your teammates. Chances are, your teammates had a hand in setting up the rules and the standards that govern this culture and they are proud of them.
You see, you’re just a rookie and college looks like a place of infinite possibilities where you can cut loose and run wide open. But remember those seniors we talked about way back when? This is their last chance to do something fantastic as soccer players. This is their last chance to shine up their legacies, and that is very important to them. And they understand the value of the rules. They understand that the rules and standards exist for a reason and that the team is better when everyone is living up to those standards. And they sure as heck don’t appreciate a stupid rookie screwing around with their last season of college soccer. When you break the rules of your college soccer program, it won’t be just the coach who comes gunning for you. Your willingness to submit to the culture will have a bigger effect on your team’s chemistry than you probably imagine.
Whatever culture exists around your program, your first semester is not the time to challenge it. Your rookie season is your time to embrace this new culture and simply accept it until you eventually grow to understand it. All of the silly things you don’t understand exist for a reason and eventually those reasons will unveil themselves to you. And when they do, and you come to appreciate them, you’ll find yourself defending them and imparting them onto a new class of rookies. Until that day arrives, put your faith in your program and trust that there are very good reasons for the things you don’t yet understand.
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