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    Sisterhood with Lauren: Togetherness on the Pack

    By Lauren Barry

    Lauren is one of three seniors on this year's Wolfpack women's tennis team. Throughout the year, Allison, Lauren, and Agustina will be posting weekly blogs about what it is like to be a member of a Division I athletic team including personal insights on competition and experiences shared amongst the team. The blog's title, Sisterhood, has an important meaning to the team. Each player does not only consider themselves teammates but part of a sisterhood where they will learn to share four years of their lives with other student-athletes from all around the world who enjoy playing tennis and having the opportunity to be part of the Wolfpack.

    I sometimes can’t put into words exactly what it feels like to be here. So to begin, I would like to share a story that I just heard the other day. This story is a bit different that you might expect but it sends a powerful message.

    A man was walking through a cemetery looking at all the grave sites. As he walked past the graves he read the messages etched into each headstone. Every one he read made his eyes fill up with tears. Each one appeared to be children who only lived for one month or one week. “How could this be?” he asked a groundskeeper. The groundskeeper assured him that it was not what it appeared. The headstones accounted for the amount of time those who have departed truly lived, loved, felt free and happy when they were in the world. The moments were written down as they occurred and the amount of time for each “living moment” that was experienced was added together and placed on the headstone. For example, first kiss, 10 seconds; sister’s wedding, 1 hour.

    This story made me think of all the “living moments” I have had in my life. As I remembered and reminisced about my childhood till now, I could account for several “living moments”. But it was when I began to think about my time in college that I found one “living moment” that lasted longer than the others. This moment was being on the Wolfpack tennis team.

    And there was one in particular.

    Every day there is a focus on the court, a challenge to master and push through. On this day, we had what our coaches called “The Gauntlet”. Each court highlighted a different shot or skill and each drill was designed to be short and intense. The goal was to make it through all four courts without missing a ball or losing intensity. Yet, the catch was, if one should miss on any of the courts you had to begin again from court one. This drill, although seemingly straightforward, was quite deceiving. The amount of focus, relaxation, and concentration that was needed to make it through was immense. A seemingly short practice for me, turned into a five hour battle against nerves, mental strength, and physical stamina. We began to practice that day at 8 a.m. and would continue on till about 10:30 a.m. where we would meet our strength and conditioning coach to do some additional training. So we only had about two and a half hours to achieve this goal after warm-ups and some live-ball hitting. I was one of three that did not make it during practice that day. Coach urged us to come back later on that night to master the goal and we were all determined to do just that. It was not until 6 p.m. when we all could return.

    To our surprise the entire team came out to cheer us on. It was an amazing feeling having them there and what began as a practice escalated to a match-like situation. We were all there to win and we would not leave until we had. Almost two hours passed and I was the only one left on the court. My legs began to feel weaker and my mind a bit weary as time passed. But, with the support of my teammates, thirty minutes later I made it to the last court and put my final serve into the box. My head fell back in relief and satisfaction and my racquet fell to the ground. My teammates came running at me and when I saw them I began to run towards them too. Screaming in celebration, we embraced and they picked me up off the ground. We did it! We all did it!

    I could not have done it without them. It was beyond words the feeling that filled the J.W. Isenhour indoor tennis center that night. Words of honor, respect and commitment are only a few to name that would begin to describe it. These words were ones that perfectly describe the feelings we had for each other – those individuals that were more than teammates, more than friends, they were all my sisters.



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