Sports have a way of preparing you for life.  Whether you play one year or ten the lessons you learn are something you carry with you in everything you do.

THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAYING A SPORT & BEING AN ATHLETE

There is a very big difference between playing a sport and being an athlete.  Many of us start young on the tee-ball field or the gymnastics floor and it becomes a way for us to pass time with our friends.  We do it because our parents want us to (I mean it's not like we're driving ourselves to lessons or games and we definitely aren't paying for it).

You can be athletic but being an athlete is a whole other level.   Athletes have a desire to show up every day all day and work for themselves and their teammates so that they can accomplish the goals set before them.  It isn't about them and what they receive it is much more.

Angel here and I played sports and danced my entire life.  I didn't truly become an athlete until I was around 9-years-old when I made a professional dance team that traveled to competitions.  You talk about dedication.  It was four nights a week, four hours a night, and every weekend we were out of town at a competition.

I danced because I loved it but it wasn't just a hobby.  It was tears, sweat, and time away from my friends and other things in life.  This was one of my first true life lessons as an athlete.

IT TEACHES DEDICATION

The definition of Dedication is a commitment to a task or purpose.  As an athlete, you have to be dedicated not only to yourself but to your team, your coaches, and the sport.  When you become part of a team you sign up to show up and give it your best.  This teaches you a lot about showing up for others in life.  Your team depends on you and in life co-workers, family, and friends often depend on you.  Many of the girls I played sports with have been dedicated friends for many years when I needed them most they were there when the rest of the world walked out.

SUCCESS DOES NOT COME EASY

While some people are gifted with great skills in different sports to truly excel you have to work hard.  You have to put in the time and effort to succeed.  My coaches expected a lot out of us.  I remember in high school we had three practices a day in the summer.  We had to manage our time and decided what was important to us.  You always learned who wanted it bad enough when those practices started.  So many girls didn't want to give up their summer.

This taught me so much about wanting to be the best and not settling.  I don't settle in life.  Mediocre has never been good enough.  If you don't push yourself it's truly a disservice.  So many miss their true potential because they don't push the envelope to be better or get better.

A great example; as I've gotten older I obviously don't participate on a sports team but I still have the drive to workout daily to stay in shape.  I am determined to grow old gracefully and remembering all I learned years ago has helped make that process a whole lot easier.

ANGEL WELSH
ANGEL WELSH
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It sometimes takes long hours, sleepless nights, tears, time away from your loved ones, being uncomfortable, and a million other things.  Guess what...it's completely worth it.

If I had to do it all over again to get where I am and know what I know in life I would absolutely take the journey.  It has helped to mold me into the person I am today.

LAUREL BEATY
LAUREL BEATY
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YOU FIND A FOREVER FAMILY YOU NEVER EXPECTED

I grew up with a single mom.  I moved around a lot.  I didn't get a chance to make friends until I finally stopped in middle school and started playing soccer.  I would have never imagined all those years ago these girls would become my forever family.

ANGEL WELSH
ANGEL WELSH
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We've been to one another's weddings, wiped tears, fought like sisters, cried together, laughed together, did things we can't mention, most importantly we were just there for one another.

KATY HARRISON
KATY HARRISON
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Since we've gotten older it is harder to gather as much as we did before we had families, and adulting but we manage to get together a few times a year and we know no matter the circumstance we can always, and I mean always pick up a phone and call on each other.

It's the closest thing to family I have ever known.

KELLI ROBERTSON
KELLI ROBERTSON
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Six Reasons I Love Being A Football Mom In Kentucky

Growing up I never understood the game of football. It only seems appropriate that I would birth three boys and they would all love the game. I'm finally learning I do too.

LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.