A letter from an athlete


Mimi Osborne, Director of Sports

To whom it may concern,

   My name is Mimi Osborne, a nine-sport varsity athlete ending my high school years and moving on to playing field hockey in college. Needless to say, I have spent my fair share of time on LFA’s athletics grounds—from late-night practices to early-morning games, athletics are a staple in my schedule. After 10 years of club sports and eight years of school ones, I am left to wonder at what expense has becoming a varsity athlete come? As I grew more dedicated to my sport, the endless joy I felt from scoring a goal or stopping an opposing play felt increasingly like a burden, like it was something I was expected to do. My love for the game diminished. I was at an athletic rock bottom.

   Athletic burnout is, according to Lurie Children’s Hospital, the “result of the physical and emotional stress of training.” 

   “Signs and symptoms include: fatigue, decreased school performance, lack of enthusiasm, sleep disturbances, and personality or mood changes.”

   With no preventative measures taken and high stress with little recovery, I fell victim to athletic burnout at the end of my junior year. For many athletes, such as myself who spent countless hours stressing over practices and games, athletic burnout is common. The hardest part, however, was having to accept that the cure to burnout was not simply a shot or medicine, but rest. In order to heal, I had to stop playing. At what point has a sport caused more harm than good? 

   At the start of my senior year I quit my club team. This decision was hard and filled with tears but, when I looked back at myself, I realized that I was in no state to continue playing at a competitive level. This decision saved me as an athlete. I took time to heal and my senior season was the best I ever had. Alongside teammates and coaches who provided me with a supportive environment, I was able to rekindle a love for a sport I thought was over. For any athlete who struggles with athletic burnout, I encourage you to rest. Take time to realize how making a hard decision now will help in the long run. The mindset “more is better” is not always the case—it wasn’t for me and, though it took me a year to realize this, I am grateful for my burnout because, after a near decade of high pressure environments, I am finally on the road to becoming a healthy athlete.