Pele Visits Elementary School
Women's soccer senior Kendyl Pele recently visited a local elementary school in Tukwila, Wash., to talk to some of the kids. Check out her blog below.
It's funny how kids have the ability to simplify things for you.
After our season wrapped up, we had to focus on "real life" once again, and for most of us that reality meant cramming for finals. Not only did I have to focus on my own workload but I realized that it would be the last of my college career. I was ending my career as an athlete at UW, but with only one course left to complete next quarter I will soon be ending my time as a student as well. Perhaps it was because I was in denial about this fact and wanted to put off studying for finals as long as possible, but I ended up volunteering to go to Tukwila Elementary School to talk about being a college athlete. While most people were prepping for their exams when Lesle asked for volunteers I jumped at the chance to hold onto my title as a student-athlete.
Driving the 20 minutes South, I was going over my speech in my head. I would be talking to a fourth grade class, which I figured was better than Kindergarten, first, second, and third grade. Arriving at Ms. Graves classroom I waited for the little ones to get back from lunch. One over achiever happened to be in class early, so we bonded over our mutual love for the movie Titanic and our resulting fear for cruise ships and open water (although her cousin went on a cruise and it turned out okay). After my brief encounter with the little one, I thought to myself, This is going to be a piece of cake.
The bell rang and the kids came running into the class excited to see the new visitor. I introduced myself to the class, and was happy to get a warm reception from the little ones. I began by telling the class that I was a senior about to graduate from college where I had played soccer for the past four years. I was in the middle of telling them about my career when a dozen little hands shot up around the room. Eager to ask their questions I called on the first girl..
Me: Yes, what's your question?
Girl: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: Um no, not at the moment... But back to what I was saying about the elite 8-
Girl: Why not?
Me: Well, it's complicated.
Boy 1: Have you ever had a boyfriend?
Me: Well yes, but-
Girl 2: What was his name?
Me: Mike McAloon.
Me: Hey, he was a really nice guy and had a great personality...
So here I was trying to explain to a class full of 10 year olds about my career as an athlete at UW, and all they wanted to talk about was my love like (or lack thereof). Every time I tried to turn the subject back to soccer, the kids would flood me with a million random questions. Eventually, I just gave up and decided to go with it.
Boy 2: Who's your best friend?
Me: Well I have a lot of best friends; some are from Washington and some from California.
Girl 3: What's the cafeteria like in college?
Me: There's a big variety of places to eat, you can pretty much pick whatever you want.
Boy 3: Like Pizza?
Me: Well yes.
Boy 4: Hamburgers?
Me: That too.
Boy 5: Dessert?
Me: Yup, all day every day.
At this, the class was pretty much hooked on the idea of college. For the next half hour I continued to answer a variety of questions from- what's my favorite subject in school, to- team Jacob or team Edward. As the question topics seemed unlimited I began to realize that perhaps I had things all wrong. The kids didn't want to know about soccer because whether someone is an athlete or not, that's not what college is all about. College is about decorating your dorm room in the latest Target trends. It's about eating rice krispy treats for breakfast because you can. It's about drinking coffee for the first time and hating it, but spending $4.50 on a latte everyday at Starbucks. It's about taking a Scandinavian studies because it sounds interesting. It's about the people you meet and the friends you make.
The questions kept coming right up until the bell rang, and even at that point most still wanted to stay after and hang out. I gladly signed autographs and took a group photo with the kids who were pushing just for the chance to stand next to me. It made me feel happy to be looked up to by a group of kids that I just met barely an hour before, but I was more excited to hear how they were all eager to go to college now. I left not only feeling like I had made a difference to the kids, but that the kids made a difference on me. I had been so focused on soccer; my tunnel vision had blinded me to the other aspects of college life that I had looked over. Because what the kids revealed to me is that college is so much more than simply playing a sport or graduating with a degree- it's about the experiences and stories we make along the way.
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