To say my life journey has been anything but linear would be a serious understatement.
It’s certainly not unusual to change your mind and find other aspirations as you grow older, but I never could have predicted the twists and turns life had in store for me.
I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2019.
While at OU, I was a thrower on the track and field team.
A few years later, I earned my J.D. at OU’s College of Law and am now a practicing attorney.
As you probably guessed, none of those accomplishments were in my initial plans.
When I was in high school, I was a cheerleader.
I didn’t step foot onto the track to compete competitively until I was a junior in high school.
I never had dreams of being a lawyer, either, as I wanted to be a pharmacist when I was younger.
If it wasn’t for all the incredible people I was able to meet at OU, the athletic department treating me like family, and all the amazing resources I was able to utilize as a student-athlete, I’m not certain how my journey would have turned out.
Something I’ve learned is that God has a way of putting you on the path you were meant to go down.
I can honestly say my time in Norman as a student-athlete has shaped me into the person I am today.
Surprises and successes
While I enjoyed cheerleading, I always envisioned myself running sprints on the track and the glory of breaking the tape to win a race.
My junior year, I decided I owed it to myself to try out for track. The team welcomed me with open arms — but not as a sprinter.
My coach decided my skills best aligned as a jumper competing in the high jump and long jump.
To my coach’s credit and tutelage, that turned out to be the right decision.
High jump came naturally to me, as I was able to reach heights and successes that surprised no one more than myself.
Speaking of surprises, after only competing in the high jump for two years, OU started to recruit me to join their track and field team.
College was always the plan.
Being a collegiate athlete was never the plan.
Changing course again
In all honesty, I didn’t want any part of being a student-athlete in college initially.
My parents instilled in me from a young age how powerful education is, and I wanted to focus on academics to achieve my goal of becoming a pharmacist.
The more I thought about it, though, I realized I was in a unique position that not many people find themselves in.
I was offered a chance to compete for a prestigious university in my home state of Oklahoma, and it turned out to be an opportunity I couldn’t let pass.
I was excited to enroll at OU and compete in the high jump, but I had my reservations. I had only been competing for around two years, and here I was in the Big 12 Conference against some of the best jumpers in the country.
I was actually worrying for no reason, because I never ended up competing in the high jump at OU.
Coach decided that he’d transition me from the high jump to the hammer throw – an event my high school team didn’t even offer.
My plans and journey altered again, and this was by far my scariest change yet.
Fighting imposter syndrome
It’s fair to say I had imposter syndrome when I first started competing. I was still built like a high jumper, and I was competing against girls who’ve been throwing for so many years.
I was a fish out of water.
It took well into my sophomore season – and even into my junior season – before I started to feel comfortable throwing and began scoring points for my team.
When I felt like I was finally able to contribute, that was a pivotal moment for me. I’ve always been a high achiever, so when I was fighting that imposter syndrome and not feeling like I belonged or was contributing, it was a challenging time.
As I progressed and continued to set personal bests in my last few seasons, I knew throwing was where I belonged.
It wasn’t where I thought I’d be, but it was where I was meant to be.
Finding myself at OU
Anyone that’s been a student-athlete at a Division I school knows the intense balancing act it takes to have success. I never could have balanced my time throwing and studying without world-class resources at OU.
Whether it was the nutritionists – especially as I was transforming my body to eat and train as a thrower – or the elite strength and conditioning coaches, I owe so much of my success to them.
From an academic standpoint, education was always at the forefront of my priorities. I knew when I graduated from OU that I was going to immediately further my education.
OU helped prepare me for that by offering a mandatory tutoring program during my freshman year, which I continued to take part in throughout my remaining years.
Not to mention, the athletic department helped fund my trips to study abroad as I completed my Spanish minor.
But one of the things I’m most grateful for in my time at OU is the single day I spent in a Chemistry class and decided that I no longer wanted to be a pharmacist.
With all the exciting opportunities I was able to take part in and resources I had access to, I was finding myself.
My journey was becoming more abundantly clear.
Life lessons in Norman
It’s only fitting that my last day as a student-athlete at OU was arguably also my most memorable and impactful.
It was the 2019 Big 12 Championships, which just so happened to be held in Norman that year. This was incredibly convenient because it meant I could compete and still attend my college graduation, which was happening the same weekend.
I ended up throwing a personal record that day, which put me in sixth place and on the podium. I remember so vividly standing on that podium feeling like I was on top of the world.
On the biggest stage of the season, and having only been throwing for a few years, I couldn’t imagine a better ending to my collegiate career.
When I attended graduation later that day, after reflecting upon the highs and lows in my time at Norman, I believed I could accomplish anything.
With that mindset, I studied at OU’s College of Law and graduated with my J.D. last year.
I’m now a first-year attorney at Phillips Murrah where I practice civil litigation and family law.
My time as a student-athlete at OU taught me so many lessons that I take with me every single day in my job and in the courtroom.
More than anything, my time at OU taught me to believe in myself.
To trust in my journey.
No matter how many detours there might be along the way.