Allard: Embodying the color purple


Emily Allard, Columnist


Some would consider the definition of purple to be a beautiful color you can create by mixing red and blue together. This is true, obviously, but athletic personnel at Northwestern would argue that purple is much, much more than a color. Purple may be the color of our school, the color of our University seal, or the color of some flowers located around campus, but that’s only the surface.

Throughout my athletic career at Northwestern, I have known the color purple to be more like a way of life, more like a promise. Purple is the color of the highest standard.

The choice to be an athlete at Northwestern is not for University employees to decide. Sure, they may sell the school, the prestigious name, the academic rigors, the Big Ten conference and proximity to Chicago as some of its perks, but ultimately when you step on this campus as a recruit, the choice is yours and no one else’s. When decisions such as “What am I going to wear tomorrow?” are at the forefront of a teenager’s mind, the choice of “How do I want to live my life in 10 years?” is now suddenly the question. When you are 16 years old and want to come to NU, you have to decide if you want to take the high road for the rest of your life. You have to decide if you want every single person surrounding you to hold you to the highest standard even when your biggest obstacles are clouding your vision. You have to decide if you want to be pushed to your limits every day to see if the sky really is the limit for you, or you just think it is.

Choosing to come to NU for not only the education, but the athletic prowess (yes, prowess) as well, is a decision very few people get to make every year. And it’s a decision that will impact those special athletes for the rest of their lives should they be brave enough to take that leap of faith at such a young age; to put their trust and future success in the hands of a group of incredible people they don’t really know. Each academic year, roughly 480 student-athletes honor that commitment to Northwestern and represent the color purple to the best of their abilities.

When that decision is made at 16 years, you are committing your life to playing and representing an entity that is much bigger than yourself. Your egotistical, narcissistic teenage self signs a letter of intent that implies the world does not and will not revolve around you. No matter what high school or area of the country you came from, you will no longer be the best when you step on this campus.

At NU, everyone is good. High school no longer matters. What you did in the past no longer matters. Everyone is fresh meat. You are surrounded by Nobel Prize winners, All-Americans and scholars. However, you promised yourself that fateful day when you were 16 that this is what you wanted: to be pushed, to be challenged, to be worked.

Wearing purple means holding yourself to that highest standard. Wearing purple means honoring that commitment you made a short time ago. So you hold your head high despite the adversity, and you get to work.

Before you know it, your career is over. You wish you would have listened to what your upperclassmen tried to warn you about. Yet we all know experience is the best teacher. Your time as a competitive athlete is running out. Now what?

Now you remember why you chose NU in the first place. You thank your 16-year-old self for being brave enough to take that leap of faith. You are so glad you embraced the challenges, that you strove for excellence, and you rely on the fact that your opportunities are endless should you decide to continue to go after them. You’ve lived it now, and you will share your experiences here on out for the rest of your life. You will try to explain to those stubborn underclassmen (whom you once were) all the lessons you wish you would have known … and then you will watch them make the same mistakes you did.

There will be many more crucial decisions you will have to make in your lifetime, and some of them will scare you.

Then you remember you’ve been there before.

You remember you’ve already taken that leap of faith and look where it got you. You remember that NU has prepared you for life after college. And you remember that the color purple, the color of the highest standard — the N Cat logo — will never come off.

Purple will always run through your veins.

Emily Allard is a Communication senior and a member of the Northwestern softball team. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].