Returning back to the Sweets this year as a sophomore, I've been lucky enough to take on the roll of "Workout Woman". I make up the half of our workout committee that creates our lifting routines each month, and helps instruct the team on how best to use our time in the gym.

Coming back to school from a whirlwind first year at Whitman, I had a silver medal in my room, a summer packed full with doctor's appointments and a chronic injury behind me. I walked onto campus in August with a new energy—more excited to see my teammates after a summer away than I can clearly articulate. Being with my teammates again is a gift. Seeing them around on campus never fails to brighten my day. When I returned to them in August, I channeled that excitement into my new role, deciding to get stronger than ever before, and help my teammates to do the same. 

Building muscle takes time, but as any seasoned athlete can tell you, the integration of strength training in a fitness plan is essential. It increases speed, stability, endurance, balance. When done right, it greatly reduces risk of injury. I knew about building strength from many months of PT, but I wanted to know more. I started doing my research: pouring over fitness websites, talking to other athletes, signing up for a one credit weight lifting class at Whitman. I made the workouts, showed them to my team, and did my best to communicate the importance of strength to them.

The Sweets spend two days in the gym each week. It's up to the individual to decide whether she wants to do a third strength day on her own time, or if she'll take an additional rest day. The more I think about our team, the more I want to tell them that regardless of what they choose to do—regardless of what their body looks like, regardless of what their ability level is, regardless of the blessings and misfortunes that may have touched their lives—each day is a strength day. Even if it doesn't feel like it. 

Playing for the Sweets has given me so much: a community on campus where I belong, a group of women who love and support me, a team full of independent, compassionate, and hard-working athletes. These women push me to demand more of myself, but also urge me to be gentle. To forgive myself and others. To trust in my teammates enough to be vulnerable. These women remind me that sometimes strength looks a lot like weakness. They remind me that real strength has to be earned, but is also shared. The more muscle we build—the more we build each other up, the better off our team. I am so grateful to be a part of a program that values that kind of commitment to our own bodies, and to each other. 

To each of my teammates: thank you. Here's to all that we have accomplished, and all that has yet to come. I'm proud to be a Sweet, and proud of you.