Share Your Story: Ashley Barnes
Being a Big Ten Conference student-athlete is more than just a title. It's the hard work, the sweat and the tears, waking up at 5:00 am to get to practice in the middle of winter when there is five inches of snow on the ground and the last thing you want to do is train. It's striving to be better, running your body into the ground, and giving that extra ounce of energy when you feel like there is nothing left. It's swimming until you can't feel your shoulders and running until your feet are numb. It's lifting more than most males could ever dream of. It's the little things that make being a Big Ten Conference student-athlete special.
It's so funny how you forget all the agony you put your body through when you step up to your competition and nothing else matters but winning and achieving something great. That's what being a Big Ten Conference student-athlete is all about. It's about PRIDE. You wear your team colors and cheer so loud your throat gets sore. Nothing else matters but you and the pool.
Whether your goal is to be a Big Ten Champion, achieve a best time, improve on the little things, or just to be part of a team, you are representing your school with every bone in your body. The pain and muscle aches are temporary, but being a Buckeye is forever.
Finishing my sport this past year, I've realized that being a student-athlete has helped me in ways I never thought possible. It has taught me to push on even when there is adversity, to keep my head up and set my goals high, and to never be satisfied with mediocrity. You walk away with more than just a title; it's a way of life.
I could talk about the memories I have from being a swimmer at The Ohio State University for days: the close friends I've made, the times I've gotten yelled at by my coach, the silly road trips, the fast swimming, saying goodbye to seniors and welcoming in the freshmen each year. These memories will never fade or go away. They are imbedded in my brain as some of the best years of my life.
So if you ask me what it means to be a Big Ten Conference student-athlete, it means everything. It means being a Buckeye for life, and smiling every time you run into someone who stopped you randomly just because you were wearing an Ohio State shirt, and says, "Hey, did you go to school there? I love the Buckeyes!" You reply, "Yeah I did." You laugh and walk away with a huge grin because you know it was more than just going to school there. You were a student-athlete. Now that's something to talk about. We are a part of our school's history; we were a part of something great.