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I want to leave my NCAA DIII team

msrhsulvmsrhsulv 1 replies1 threads New Member
Hi everyone, I am a third-year student athlete at a small NCAA DIII college and run on the Cross Country and Track/Field team. I have been thinking about leaving my team since my freshman year because it has only caused unnecessary stress and has pretty much killed the team aspect of the sport for me.
A little bit about myself, my time in college athletics has led me to some fair accomplishments in the sport such as two school records and almost an NCAA Championship appearance in track (I was one of the first few out). I am by far the fastest on the team, but I still try to encourage everybody to compete and most importantly have fun. Unfortunately, I am not the most popular on the team.
When I was a Freshman, I quickly became the number one runner on the team which led me to not being so popular with the upperclassmen. They gossiped about me to my teammates and destroyed my name on the team. Anyways, their gossip led to huge drama with everybody and ended up isolating me completely. Despite this, I still tried to motivate everybody.
This was basically my sophomore year as well, but with more unwanted drama. It basically became harder for me to run fast, let alone want to run at all, but I still managed. Now that I am in my 3rd year, I promised myself that I will not touch any unnecessary drama, even if it includes me, my goal is to get good grades, run fast, and make friends along the way, that’s it. Unfortunately, gossip and drama are starting once again and is unsurprisingly about me. I just don’t want to be in this type of environment anymore. A lot of people on my team love drama and it creates an environment that is extremely toxic. It really affected my mental health over the last 2 years, and I have to keep finding reasons just to stay on this team.
My goal is to fight for an All-American spot in Cross Country and Track (Which is a very achievable goal) and hopefully earn the Athlete of the Year Award in my Senior year. But at what cost? My mental health and confidence decline greatly every time I am with my team, and some of them enjoy seeing it.
I am at a loss at this point, and I don’t know what to do. Do I leave now and pursue other aspects of my life like traveling and spending more time with my family? Or do I tough this out and continue to pursue my athletic goals. I feel that if I earn an All-American medal / Senior Athlete of the Year Award, it will not only represent the hard work I put into the sport, but also the social obstacles that I had overcome.
I would also like to add that I have made so many friends in this sport, from the running community and other teams. If I leave, I feel like I would be losing a major part of my life that I might regret in the future. Thank you guys for reading this, I would truly appreciate any input you guys might have.

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Replies to: I want to leave my NCAA DIII team

  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 516 replies6 threads Member
    Could talking to your coach be helpful? If you have already, what do they say?
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5859 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Have you talked about this with your coach? Sometimes, without thinking about it, a coach can create or feed drama. Saying something like "We'll see who the fastest 6 are at xyz and they will attend abc" can make a team very competitive with each other. How rooms are assigned (or not) at away meets can create cliquey behavior.

    I would, in the meantime, just do your workouts. You may feel like you are encouraging others, but they might feel it's something else (condescending, mocking, etc.) It sounds like you love to run and are good at it and the problem is your team, so I wouldn't give it up.
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  • msrhsulvmsrhsulv 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you for commenting! your feedback was really helpful. I have told my coach about it and he understands to an extent. But he is a very down to business coach, and only cares about results. He can get pretty insensitive at times, so he doesn't really help too much.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4451 replies18 threads Senior Member
    The coach will care if you left the team. He is also a coach and not a social worker. Maybe talk to someone else on campus for advice.

    I can go either way with this. Evidently there is some immaturity on the team.

    But I like to control my own destination. If I was as good as you it wouldn't phase me.

    So one suggestion is a team meeting and ask the team what's up and how to stop the drama.

    If not, your actions will speak volumes. Keep winning. Their actions would actually motivate me to run faster. Be friends with the ones you have a relationship with. Be yourself.
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  • bopperbopper 14122 replies100 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Other things to consider;

    1) Talk to the Coach again and tell them that you are considering leaving the team about this. Or is there an assistant coach to talk to? or the athletic trainer?
    2) talk to the college counseling center. Try to find out strategies for avoiding drama, how to ignore drama, and if you are possibly causing drama.
    3) Talk to trusted friends and see if you are involved in stirring up drama
    4)Do you have a Captain on your team? can you talk to them?
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2350 replies44 threads Senior Member
    You like running, you're good at it, you've got friends you've made and kept due to running, and you have a good chance at a really special award. For those reasons I would stay a little longer.

    Having said that, the common denomonator in the drama seems to be you. That's hinting that some soul searching might be in order, and I would start with that before making the decision to quit. The upperclassmen you showed up have surely graduated and left by now. Yet problems remain. Perhaps the team culture really is toxic, and in fact, your coach doesn't appear to be a model of leadership. Or perhaps your social and communication skills could use some improvement (what you see as trying to motivate teammates might be coming off the wrong way). Is it possible your "interventions" appear to the others as though you are usurping the role of your team's captain? Maybe you need some "How to Win Friends and Influence People" kind of instruction.

    It is a good idea to focus on your grades, but that doesn't mean you can't also win at running too. Just win a little more graciously.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    Training for middle distance running can be done on an individual basis. Consider staying on the team & training alone.

    With respect to the undefined "drama", it seems as though you are in the wrong environment at your small DIII school. Did you consider any DI universities when applying to colleges ?

    I had a somewhat similiar experience freshman year at my LAC which had both DIII & DI sports.

    Never had a problem with track or cross country, but I did leave the wrestling team because the practices were less intense than they were in high school (even though the wrestling team was very successful & had two national champions at DIII at that time). Almost all of us were two or three sport athletes, yet I was singled out by the coach for being too rough & was restricted to only practicing with the wrestler at my weight who was the national champion. The others at or above my weight who complained that I might hurt them were both two sport athletes (football & wrestling). I left the team. The coach sent his assistant coach to encourage me to rejoin the team, but I declined. I had never met such complainers in my life as the other wrestlers who all belonged to the same jock fraternity. I didn't need the drama. Nevertheless, I blamed myself. I should have attended a university with DI wrestling & DI track & cross country.

    Small LACs can be very cliquish, gossipy & filled with athletes who are not on scholarship. Can be the right environment for some, but not for others.

    For grad school, I attended a large DI & can assure you that the environment is much different than at a small DIII LAC. But, again, it was my mistake for attending a DIII LAC.

    Since it is too late for you to transfer, you may want to see how much eligibility you have left if you plan on attending graduate school immediately after graduating from your LAC. I can almost assure you that it will be a totally different experience and, that due to a higher level of competition, your times will improve.

    Are you at an LAC with a lot of prep school athletes ? That does affect the environment. Do you enjoy being at your LAC outside of sports ?
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  • politepersonpoliteperson 358 replies4 threads Member
    Really sorry about all this. I think you need a short term and long term plan. In the short term, the season is nearing an end. If you can put a hold on long term decisions for the next several weeks until after nationals that’d be ideal. From what you’re describing, your team might not even make nationals so you’d really only be around them for a couple more weeks. Just keep your focus on the training process and the things you can control. For the long term, I do think talking to someone would be helpful. Explore campus counseling resources or go off campus. This might help you reframe the situation and develop some coping strategies. I would start this right away but view it as a long term process.

    Having said all that, running shouldn’t make you miserable. There are options for college athletes to compete unattached that you could pursue pretty easily, although it depends a bit on where your college is located. You’d be giving up the championship season but you can find plenty of opportunities that’ll help you achieve your running goals, especially during the track season. So don’t feel like your path to running success has to go through this team.
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