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Skidmore College

A soccer player passionate about perfect words

January 7, 2019
by Mike Park '19

I had a childhood dream of being a professional soccer player. Now, I’m an English major at a liberal arts college spending most of my time reading and writing, and some of my time playing Division III soccer.

I’m learning that fulfillment and happiness might be more valuable than soccer fame.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at how I got here.  

Finding a major seemed daunting. Not only did I have to take classes to find out what I wanted to further pursue, I also had to take classes in order to get a taste for what I didn’t like.

Because of my soccer dreams, I came to Skidmore with only athletics-related studies on my mind. I thought, “If I can’t be on the field, I’ll help the people who are.”

I had it all planned out. I’d take my bachelor’s in exercise science to graduate school and get a DPT, a doctorate in physical therapy. I’d rise to the top of my PT game and get recruited as a personal trainer for a club in the top flight of English football (soccer).

But then Skidmore’s liberal arts curriculum surprised me and I found myself exploring new studies. As I sampled bits and pieces of several departments, I grew hungry for more. Soon, I was determined to get a taste of as many disciplines as possible so I’d never regret missing out on something.

I was so concerned with trying everything that I jammed my schedule with so many different options. I felt overwhelmed.

How was I expected to make my way through all the departments Skidmore had to offer and choose a favorite? Will I ever know what I’m truly good at or destined to follow?

To sort through it all, I began to write.

In writing, I found I could express my opinions, sort through the problems in my mind and leave them on the paper. I could put order to the experiences in my life and begin to articulate anxieties in a productive manner.

Writing became therapeutic. It became a medium where I was free to manifest different personalities, exist in other worlds and make sense of things I didn’t understand. It also made me more confident.

It finally clicked — I wanted to write. I’d major in English.

Never in a million years did I expect I would willingly subject myself to biweekly 2,000-word research papers. Never did I think I would happily embrace a dichotomy of identities, a soccer player who loves to spend hours putting the perfect words together, a walking amalgamation of athleticism and the arts.  

But here I am. And so far, I think I like it.

I like the things I am assigned to read. I like the conversations we have in class. I like the challenge of writing so frequently. Now, as a senior at Skidmore, it’s crazy to think about how and why I declared my English major.  

And truthfully, I don’t know what I’m going to do next. Sometimes I even question my decision, especially when I get questions like these: What are you going to do with an English degree? Write a children’s book? Be a teacher?

My answer: I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see.

As an English major, I’ve learned how to critically analyze texts and what the word palimpsest means. But perhaps more importantly, I’ve learned that when I let my writing speak for itself, it will reveal all that I need.

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