Student athletes come in all varieties. Some play on team sports or compete in their individual events as part of a team. Others, like recent Salem High School graduate, Rachael Ericksen has found that you don’t need a team or official competition to be an athlete.
For the past several years, Rachael has developed a love and talent for weightlifting, in particular, CrossFit. She said that it was when she was in junior high when friends of hers introduced her to lifting, and she said that she was a little reluctant at first.
“I used to do English riding, mostly hunter-jumper stuff,” she said. “One winter in junior high, I wasn’t able to ride because of the weather. I had friends who did CrossFit, and they were constantly trying to get me to go with them, so I decided that I would give it a shot.”
While Rachael admits that she only started to go because of her friends, she said she quickly found that she liked it.
“When I first started, I went because my friends did, but very quickly I started going for myself,” Rachael said. “I know that I feel so much better physically and mentally when I go work out, so that is my main motivator. I have come to learn that oftentimes the days that I don’t want to go to the gym are the days that I need to go to the gym the most. Those are the days that I need a pick-me-up or just that I need to practice self-discipline so that I don’t get into the habit of slacking off. By not letting myself slack off here and there, it has stayed fairly easy to make it to the gym daily.”
While many sport competitions focus on winning, fitness on an individual level focuses on self-improvement. This is what Rachael says is what she loves most about her time at the gym and lifting weights.
“For me, the most important things aren’t necessarily how fast I am or how much I can lift, but how it makes me feel,” she said. “Obviously when I am constantly working, I am getting new personal records and that feels good, but it’s not just because of how much I’m lifting or how many reps. It feels good to know that I am working hard. My goal is to continue to put in all the hours and effort to always become better.”
Rachael will be attending Southern Utah University in the Fall with the goal of getting into the nursing program. She says that while the transition from high school to college may be difficult, she believes that staying physically fit will help her in other areas of her life. She also encourages teens like herself to maintain and even start a physical regimen even if they aren’t part of a sports team. She even offered some tips to teens wanting to become physically fit.
“You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself,” Rachael said. “There are going to be days where you feel so good and be so proud of yourself for how far you have come. You’ll hit new records, fly through workouts and surprise yourself. There are also going to be days where you feel like crap. Maybe the workout took you way longer than it should have, or lifts just feel extra heavy, or maybe you didn’t even make it to the gym. That’s okay. Those days are going to happen and the only thing you can do about it is to keep trying. (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)