I fell in love a little too late.
Falling in love with your sport can be very hard and for me, up until college, it was a love-hate relationship. Throughout juniors, I was competing only for myself and no one else. The motivation to win wasn’t always there, because I felt like I was competing for ultimately my ranking and I did not have motivation to leave my heart out there. In juniors, I definitely settled to be mediocre.
Fortunately, when I got to college and started competing for Arizona, I found a passion and love inside me that I had never felt or experienced before. I was playing for the other girls on my team, for the university and for my coaches, it was no longer for me. So in this case, an individual loss from me for my team was unacceptable.
I will never forget my first spring match ever competing as a freshman against the University of Hawaii.
We had already lost the match, but we were playing it out. Going into the match I told myself, “I am going to do everything I can to win my first collegiate match.” And I did. I remember I had won the first set comfortably and started getting nervous because in the second set, my opponent started playing better and was being more aggressive. I ended up losing the set.
Starting the third, something lit up inside me that I had never felt before. It was a feeling of desire and drive to win to leave my heart on the court. On the court in that third set, my personality changed and I became a warrior. I was yelling “come on” after every point I won and essentially I faked my confidence to show her that I wasn’t going to give up and she didn’t either. So it was a battle and I learned the importance of the saying “fake it till you make it” because showing my opponent that I was into it no matter how tired I was, broke her down and allowed me to pull out the win.
Ever since, my freshman self taught me that I was good enough to compete in the Pac-12, I was just lacking belief. From that match on, I was another person when I stepped on the court. I truly felt that everyone counted on me to win my matches because of how I portrayed myself on the court. My teammates would tell me, “Camila, every time you go out there I never doubt that you’ll win, you are so reliable,” and that is what I wanted to be known for. Leaving Arizona, I wanted people to remember that I was a fighter and never gave up.
I truly loved competing in the collegiate scene and will forever miss it. I discovered parts of my identity that I hadn’t known existed within me and for that I am grateful. Being on a team taught me so many valuable lessons that I will carry into my life beyond college.