Senior Carli Cone representing Tennessee at NIAAA conference in May

Senior Carli Cone presented her NIAAA Student Essay at the Opening Ceremony of the TSSAA/TIAAA State Athletic Directors Conference in Murfreesboro earlier this week.
Carli's essay was selected among dozens of other student-athletes' submissions, winning her a $500 scholarship. She will represent Tennessee at the NIAAA Section 3 Meeting in May.

Read her essay below: "How CPA Athletics Have Impacted My Life"
By Carli Cone


I don’t know where I would be right now without the mentorship and fellowship I have found in my soccer team. During the spring of my sophomore year in my Peer Counseling class, the teacher instructed me to write down one thing I felt I could not live without. Without hesitation, I wrote my mobility. At a season in my life where I felt like everything was crumbling around me, playing soccer and lacrosse and running track were always healthy ways for me to decompress and release my emotions. I never liked sharing my circumstances with anyone, so I threw my energy into my sports instead of my personal life. It worked for two years, then everything changed. During the fall of my junior year, I dislocated my left knee, and in the blink of an eye, my mobility was gone. I went from playing every minute of every game to not even being able to practice. Suddenly, I lost my release, and I was forced to face the emotional hardships in my life. While this was a challenging season for me, in hindsight, I see how this injury in my athletic career molded me for the better.

My friend, Langley, tore her ACL and was unable to play soccer for our junior season. However, Langley decided to love our team well by becoming the team manager. She came early to every practice and game to set up and stayed late to clean up. She was the epitome of a servant leader. Langley never played one minute that season but she was as much a part of the team as our leading goal-scorer. When I joined Langley on the sidelines after my injury, I learned more about how to be a team-player than I ever thought possible. Langley beautifully demonstrated grace and altruism in the face of adversity. Together, she and I were able to talk through our emotions instead of expressing them on the field. Through this fellowship, we grew and sharpened each other as we discerned the healthy ways to deal with our circumstances. Furthermore, watching my teammates from the sidelines allowed me to recognize and praise each girl’s strengths, but I was also able to encourage them in their weaknesses, whether it was related to soccer or not.

In addition to Langley, my assistant soccer coach, Rachel White, stood by me and walked me through my struggles. She understood my reserved personality, so she stepped in and asked me questions when I needed, but she also became a soothing presence when I wanted peace. I returned to the field my senior year healthier than I had ever been before, both physically and emotionally. However, this season, it was my turn to love and be there for Coach White. She and her family brought a four-year-old Haitian boy named Ferlando into their home on a medical visa to recieve treatment for his brain cancer.

Throughout the season, our team walked with Coach White through the ups and downs of Ferlando’s chemotherapy. All of my athletic career, I dreamed of winning a state championship. When the semi-finals came around, and I could taste the victory, we lost by one goal in the final minutes of the game. However, the following day, when we would have been playing in the state championship, we received word that Ferlando had passed away. All of the state championships in the world would not be worth the time that our team spent together that day and the support that we were able to show the White family. Our season was over, but the strength of our team only grew every day that followed.

My athletic career at CPA has taught me so much more than skills and physical fitness. It has taught me how to love and be loved, how to lead and be led, how to serve and be served. Most importantly, I have learned how to be intentional and invest in relationships that extend far beyond the end of the season.
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Christ Presbyterian Academy

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