Throughout high school I have come to value and appreciate the impact that taking part in sports and physical activity has had on my life and well-being. In addition to encouraging my physical fitness, the sports that I have taken part in have helped me considerably in terms of mental well-being. In ninth and tenth grade I participated in the YIS high school dance company, but unfortunately I had to stop performing in the spring of 2016 due to a minor knee injury that prevented me from dancing. Luckily, after completing rehabilitation exercises for about five months, I was able to return to sport in eleventh grade by playing on the JV girls tennis team and in the quidditch club. These both helped to ease me back into athletics, as they were not on a very competitive level. Then in the second semester I returned to soccer after having played during middle school and made the girls varsity team. This was an amazing experience for me and taught me a lot about the sport and my abilities as a center midfielder / central defender.
Throughout high school these sports helped me to maintain my physical fitness, though I would say that soccer was the most strenuous. As a varsity team, we practiced for two hours after school three times a week before playing games and tournaments on most weekends. Although the season only lasted for a few months, our coach continued to hold practices after it had ended in order to ensure that we would be ready for the following year. At the end of the season we participated in the AISA tournament at Seoul International School and played against five different international schools, ultimately coming in third place. Our most challenging game, and the only one we lost, was the semi-final against the SOIS team from Osaka. We found it difficult to match their intensity throughout the game, and as a result did not get to play in the final. Regardless, the tournament was a great experience for the whole team and taught us all a lot. By playing against very intense teams I became a more aggressive player and found myself physically working a lot harder.
During the soccer season, I was surprised to find that although my schedule was busier, I felt more relaxed in general. The first year of the DP program put me under a lot of stress that I found difficult to manage, but joining the soccer team allowed me to disconnect from my schoolwork and other activities for several hours per week. In PE class we had discussed the mental benefits that exercise has on the brain for hours after physical activity, and my experience with these sports has definitely proven the significance of this. Although none of my work got any less difficult, it was easier to take a step back and complete my assignments using a step-by-step process after exercising. I really feel that exercise allows me to think more clearly and organize my thoughts more effectively, which has resulted in my work being completed much more efficiently. Although it was difficult to maintain my amount of exercise after the soccer season finished and our number of practices was reduced, I tried to make up for this by completing five to ten minutes of daily leg and back stretches. So far I have found these beneficial in a similar fashion, as the stretches allow me to improve my flexibility and temporarily stop thinking about the problems that result in my stress. I know that keeping up these regular activities will be extremely crucial throughout twelfth grade, as I anticipate that it will be a challenge to manage my mental health when faced with such a strenuous schedule.
I am very glad that I have rediscovered my interest in soccer, as it has been one of my favorite forms of physical exercise and has benefited me mentally as well. Being part of a kind and supportive team has also been comforting during times of worry. My daily stretches have also been a great addition to my schedule, as they help me manage my thoughts and push away anything that seems too hectic but they are also helping me improve my flexibility, something I have always wanted to achieve. These activities have played key roles in motivating my work and have helped me improve and maintain my wellness over the past few years, and I hope to continue these habits in the future.