Three years ago I had a conversation with a freshman athlete — let’s call her Katie — who was scared of a senior on her team. Let’s call the senior Trisha.
There was no particular problem, but Katie wanted to express how intimidated she felt around Trisha. Every time Katie made a mistake in practice she could feel Trisha’s anger. She waited for Trisha to yell at her after ever error. Practices became so tense for Katie that she dreaded going.
Trisha was an intense player indeed. Sometimes she would yell to motivate her teammates. But she rarely yelled at Katie — it may have happened once that I can remember. The problem was not with Trisha, but with Katie’s expectations.
If an upperclassman’s intimidating presence causes you to improve, great. But it need not cause you to be mean to yourself.