Dickinson College Undergraduate Application Essay on Athletics

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Dickinson College Application Essay Sample on Athletics

Essay by Michael Asmussen

When I first came to St. Andrew's-Sewanee, I had pretty much led a common life for a child in my area. Athletically, I played baseball, basketball, and soccer. There was peewee football down the mountain in the valley, but on top of our little plateau there never was much interest in getting a team together. So I entertained myself by playing pick up football with my friends. I played soccer in the fall and it was always fun, but there was always something missing. It wasn't until I first came out for football during my eighth grade year that I finally discovered something that created a spark inside of me. In soccer, I had played every position, and there was not one niche for me. However, in football, I was a lineman. That was the one position that I played, and it was a position for which I was well suited. I had finally found something that could be all mine. This was my chance to do something on my own and to finally follow my dreams.

I had always been somewhat big as a child. So when I joined football it was only natural that I would join the linemen. My friend was a lineman, and I did not see any reason why I shouldn't play that position too. There was still only one problem. Although I was big for my age, I still wasn't all that big. At five foot five, and one hundred and fifty pounds, I was dwarfed by all the players that I went up against. My first year was frustrating because I did not get a lot of playing time. It was not until my freshman year that I finally began to get playing time, and bit by bit I improved. Finally, in my sophomore year, I cracked the starting lineup. When our starting noseguard was injured, my coach called upon me to fill the spot. I took over that position and held on for dear life. I never relinquished my spot on the defensive line, and worked as hard as I could to fend off any challengers. I was the lone sophomore starting that year and it created in me a sense of pride. That feeling of accomplishment inside of me carried into my junior year, where, after an intense summer, I took over the job of being the starting center on the offensive line. I was one of the iron-men of our team. I would start both ways and would get very little break from my jobs. I held these titles proudly as I knew that with them came a certain level of respect from both the coaches and other players. It was not until my senior season that I realized exactly how much respect I had earned from both the coaches and players. When the results from the elections were tallied, I was told that it was almost a unanimous decision that I had been selected as one of the three team captains. I was shocked to hear this because in years past the captains had often been the more popular players, which was a group that I never saw myself a part of. My coach told me that he was totally confident that the players had chosen the absolute best examples for them to follow. This was when I realized how much of a different person I was in comparison to when I began on the team as an eighth grader.

I almost never came to this realization. When I came home as a seventh grader in spring of 1996 and told my parents that I wanted to join the football team, they bordered upon adamancy in their desire to keep me from playing. Their biggest worry was that I might get hurt because I was so small. It took a great deal of coaxing and cajoling to get the permission that I desired. And once I got this permission my journey was not over. That August, when my first preseason started, I was utterly unprepared for what I was about to face. It was easily the hardest three weeks that I have ever experienced. To this day, I still remember constantly thinking of how I could be at home with my friends rather than suffering under the hot sun on the practice field. But, before I had started, I had made myself a promise that I would see this commitment through. I would treat it like all the other commitments that I make and never give up on it. The first year was almost as aggravating as the three weeks of preseason. Every game, I would stand on the sidelines and watch as my friends were constantly sent in to give the starters small breaks. By the end of the season, I had begun to have serious doubts about ever playing again, but my friends told me that I just had to put the time in, and someday my time would come. When my time finally arrived, I experienced the greatest sense of accomplishment that I have ever felt. I had worked hard and shown all those around me that I deserved notice. Every time I pulled the jersey over my shoulder pads, I felt that maybe something great was about to happen. I had earned everything that I had gotten and done it all on my own. This was my accomplishment and nobody else's.

I think, however, that the biggest realization came when I took the jersey off my shoulder pads for the last time as a St. Andrew's-Sewanee Mountain Lion. It was the hardest thing that I had ever done as a player. I had been able to last through the three weeks of sheer hell of that first preseason. I had even been able to play through discouraging games when we were not only out-manned but also out-sized. But when it came time to peel my soiled jersey off my shoulder pads one last time, I cried. I cried because I realized how important football had been in my life. Football was the first pursuit that I had ever made on my own. Everything else that I had done had always been tried by my older sister and older brother first. But football was my own special accomplishment. I had spent five years of my life devoting myself to something that was entirely my choosing. I think that it had the most impact on my life over everything else I have done. It taught me to follow my dreams, and that through hard work and determination anything is possible. But most importantly it had become an outward and visible sign of my inward and invisible determination. After all, who would have thought that a five foot five nobody could have developed into one of the most respected players on the team? I certainly never did, and I am sure hardly anybody else did either, but that is exactly what I think drove me to succeed.

Michael Asmussen is a graduate of Dickinson College.

Essay Review

A "5'5" nobody," and how he became a team captain

Essays about athletics often fall flat, but that doesn't mean it is impossible to write a good one. Author Michael Asmussen's essay succeeds partly because of obvious sincerity: he has no great epiphanies after the championship game, nor does he offer any platitudes about hard work and self-discipline. Michael felt like a nobody until success in football made him feel like somebody. His story is endearing partly because he is so self-effacing—as when he was shocked to be named a team captain. And if you're going to write a football essay, it never hurts to talk about the time you cried.

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