By JED SIMPSON
Special to the Sun-Gazette
The transition from high school to college is big. As we complete the final months of our senior year in high school, the anxiety mounts.
What will college be like? Some welcome the opportunity; others dread it.
No matter what we do, the thought never leaves our minds. It's like a song that gets stuck in our head and lasts throughout the summer.
We've been spoiled by a routine that has been with us since middle school: wake up at 6:30 in the morning, go to school for seven hours, play after-school sports, come home, hang out with friends and repeat.
But as graduation nears, we realize that routine will soon change. Our days as teenagers are coming to an end. Life as an adult is just beginning.
College offers endless opportunities. Lycoming College is no exception.
Because we are a liberal arts school, we have kind of an advantage over other schools because there is a little bit of everything for students to try.
I'm not just talking about majors. Lycoming has multiple clubs, organizations, on-campus jobs, charities and sports teams to choose from. I chose golf.
In high school, the golf season lasted from April to May (not counting March for practice).
In fact, March was the only time we practiced as a team. Once the season began, we had to find time to practice on our own. There would be one to two matches per week. All of them were played after school, not during. The only time we would have to take an absence from school is if we participated in the finals tournament. Ours was called the "Tournament of Champions." We only made it there once.
Most of our matches were held at local courses, which made travel very easy.
It was especially easy for the seniors who could drive their cars up to the course without having to cram themselves in the team van. A typical match lasted 2 1/2 hours for nine holes.
Five players from each team would play. The four best scores were recorded. The team that had the lowest total score won the match. The combination of having to go to school for seven hours then play golf for an additional 2 1/2 made some days very long.
Even though I was exhausted, it was still fun. The best part was getting our scores printed in the newspaper if we did really well.
College golf, however, is a little bit different.
Actually, it is a whole new world. We play against multiple schools at a time. On some occasions there could be up to 20 schools competing.
Like in high school, five players from each team play. The four lowest scores are recorded and the team with the lowest total score wins.
One player from each team plays in a threesome or foursome depending on the number of schools competing in the tournament.
Obviously, there can't be one player from every team playing in one group because there would be way too many golfers.
I don't think there's even a word for those kinds of groups - maybe a twentysome.
However, the No. 1-ranked players are put together with the other No. 1-ranked players and the No. 2-ranked players are together with the No. 2-ranked players etc.
We do not call the rounds matches, they are called tournaments because we play the full 18. Therefore, we take the whole day off from school.
The van leaves at 8 in the morning, we start playing at noon, finish at 4 or 5, depending on how our pace goes and don't arrive back at school until about 8 in the evening; sometimes 9.
The college van is much bigger than the one in high school.
The van used in high school was a mini-van; mostly meant for families. The college van is meant to carry school teams because it is big and wide.
Also, the golf courses we play at are very difficult. In high school, we played the same courses over and over again. In college, the schedule changes every year.
Sometimes there will be one familiar course on the list if we're lucky. I have played in five tournaments so far and have yet to break 90 in all of them.
In fact, the lowest score I've shot was a 90.
But the biggest difference between high school and college golf is the college tournaments are intimidating.
I remember my first time playing last year. There were about 15 teams at the course and so many of the players were better than I was. It was scary.
I began to question myself whether I would be able to compete with these guys. Once the round got under way, however, the nerves slowly subsided. It's always good to get the first one out of the way, because after that it pretty much becomes routine.
The most important thing to learn from this is don't be afraid.
No matter what sport you play, whether in high school or college, there will always be someone who is better than you. Rather than fear that person, you should use him or her as motivation to get better.
Sports allow us to get away from the things that are bothering us.
And if we are able to become really good at the sport we love - that is just icing on the cake.
Simpson is a student at Lycoming College.