Krystin Lawrence, Fifth Year, Windsor Lancers Women's Hockey & Soccer
Being a student is very stressful with assignments, midterms, and finals to be worrying about. Being an athlete can be very exhausting with the amount of hard work and dedication you have to put in day in and day out to continue to reach your goals. Now, being a student-athlete is incredibly challenging and it’s a lot harder than it looks. But in my situation, I am a former multi-sport athlete studying sociology at the University of Windsor. I played soccer and hockey for three years and it was nothing more than gratifying.
When I received the opportunity to play both soccer and hockey for Windsor, it was something I just couldn’t pass up. The chance to be able to play two varsity sports was very rare and I was more than ready to accept the challenges that came along with it. It was a whole new level of dedication from not only me, but both of my coaches and I can’t thank them enough for their patience and belief in me.
“…and I enjoyed every second of it.”
Being in class in the morning, making it to soccer practice afterwards, and then rushing to the rink for hockey practice was just a normal daily routine for me and I enjoyed every second of it. Always on the go each and every day kept me eager to get better because I always had the opportunity to. I truly believe that being a goalkeeper in soccer has helped me become a better hockey player, while being a forward in hockey helped me become a better soccer player. From having good hand eye coordination and patience to agility and overall strength, it has helped me become better and be successful in both sports.
“Over the last five years of my playing career, I have achieved everything I could possible achieve.”
Over the last five years of my playing career, I have achieved everything I could possibly achieve. I felt unstoppable and nothing could get in my way from continuing to achieve all of my goals. In my first year, I was named to the all-rookie team for hockey and was named Rookie of the Year for the University of Windsor. My second year, I led the OUA in points and was named to the OUA second-team for hockey as well as OUA second-team for soccer.
My third year, however, was my breakthrough year. I was named OUA women’s hockey player of the year, I led the OUA in points for the second straight year, was named an OUA first-team all-star, U SPORTS second-team all-Canadian, OUA first-team all-star for soccer, and achieved a Final 4 berth for the first time in school history for the women’s soccer team. And after all of that, my year ended by being named University of Windsor’s Female Athlete of the Year. I felt on top of the world. I worked so hard to achieve everything I had since I first came into the university, but my one main goal was still on my radar – winning an OUA championship.
Heading into my fourth year, I knew I had to continue the success I was having. Not yet reaching my full potential challenged me to continue striving for my goals and become better each day for myself and my teammates. But unfortunately, the universe had other plans for me. Three games into soccer season, I sustained a major knee injury that took me out of playing for the remainder of both soccer and hockey seasons.
At first, I didn’t know how to react. It was my first injury that I’ve ever had that took me out of not only a single game, but the entirety of two seasons. It was the first time I had experienced the mental and emotional state I was in. You think about life without sports, how your life has completely changed, and how in the blink of an eye, you are now out of your normal routine. And for me, that routine was go, go, go. Now, however, I just spend my days in the athletic therapy room trying to make a comeback for my fifth year.
Being in my fifth year, I thought I was back better than ever, but fate again had different plans and I was out indefinitely for the second year in a row due to a torn ACL and meniscus. If I’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s thatthe universe is always giving you what you need and taking away what you don’t, even if, at the time, it seems like the exact opposite. I’m a big believer in the saying everything happens for a reason and I believe the injuries I sustained were a blessing in disguise.
Not being able to play hockey for the past two years has let me figure out what I want for my future – personally, athletically, and academically. The psychological stress from the injury has directed me in different routes to manage the emotional stress that it has caused; routes such as seeing a therapist, talking to close friends who have been in the same situation, and focusing on things outside of sports, like family.
Spending time away from sports is not a norm for athletes who spend most of their days focusing on just that, but one day it is something that will unfortunately come to an end. For most, the question that always comes to mind for athletes is, “I don’t know what I would do without sports”. Alex Cyr, a second-year masters student who runs cross country at the University of Windsor, wrote an article with recommendations for athletes to find other hobbies outside of their sport because again, one day, there will be a time where it will be the end of the road. I highly recommend every athlete read the article because it puts everything into perspective. Many alumni have stated that they wish they were told this in their playing days, so I hope this helps some athletes who are close to the end of their careers.
“I’m turning a setback into a major comeback…”
Fortunately for me, I have read the article and the time away from sports has given me the opportunity to find a new hobby for when the time comes to hang up the skates comes. For now, though. I will be working hard day in and day out with my athletic therapist to get back out on the ice in October to continue reaching my goals and I won’t let anything that comes my way stop that. I’m turning a setback into a major comeback and I cannot wait to be back playing in the OUA for my final two years of eligibility, where ever that may be.