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Topic: Culture - September 25 2022
The Power of Your Community

Being an athlete affects our decisions on and off the field. We understand the importance of how we train, what we eat, and when we go to sleep, but we also need to emphasize the company we keep. It’s so important to surround ourselves with others who understand the type of sacrifice we make and dedication we have in order to be successful.

By: Shianne Knight

VIS Creator™

& Dr. Sonali Wason

VIS Expert™

Topic: Culture

September 25 2022

Most athletes develop close friendships with fellow athletes due to their shared commitment and time spent together in their sport. Seeking friendships outside of our sport is also important, but we need to look for certain qualities. 

It is imperative to surround yourself with people who are constantly building you up to be your best self. While it’s important to recognize that not everyone has the same goals as you, finding friends that understand sacrifice and determination is a good sign that you’re with the right crowd. 

Whether we realize it or not, our surroundings do influence us, and it is in our power to determine if that influence is a positive or negative one. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves in the process. 

  • Can I be myself around them? 

  • Does our time spent feel nourishing and draining? 

  • Are my needs and feelings being validated and respected?

In an interview with Voice In Sport, VIS expert Dr. Sonali Wason, PsyD broke down her theory on the company we keep. “I tend to avoid labels like good and bad company and instead encourage folks to invest in relationships with people who share similar values,” she says.

“Friendships can look differently and mean different things to different people. At the foundation, the company that we surround ourselves with should be people that we can rely on, people who communicate with honesty and respect, those who are emotionally supportive, and those people who add joy to our lives.” 

We also may find ourselves spending a lot of time with teammates who we might not choose to hang out with outside of sport. So, we asked Wason for advice geared towards busy athletes who are struggling to find the right friend group. 

“Expanding our social circles to include different kinds of individuals can expand our horizons….Though it might feel like work, it is worth it to put in the effort to find people you align with.”

Dr. Sonali Wason, PsyD & VIS Expert

“It can feel like a lot of effort to befriend folks outside of athletics because others don’t always have an understanding of the time and effort athletics demand,” she says. “But expanding our social circles to include different kinds of individuals can expand our horizons, bring us out of our comfort zone, and bring rich depth to our relational life.”

“Though it might feel like work, it is worth it to put in the effort to find people you align with,” she continues. “Maintaining friendships that feel harmful or toxic in an effort to avoid feeling lonely will only exacerbate your feelings of loneliness. Explore different group activities/hobbies in your off-season in an effort to tend to the other aspects of your identity while also meeting like-minded others. If you’re having a hard time finding a group for an activity you enjoy, consider starting one yourself!”

Take Action

On our VIS forum page, share an experience where your tribe has influenced you to be better, or share an additional extra-curricular activity you’re involved in to connect with other like-minded girls in sport.