Athlete Problems 101

Athlete Problems 101

I would like to say that I’m a person who is always about my business, but this is particularly true when basketball season rolls around. In October we start pre-season, an opportunity for everyone on the team to show the coaches why they deserve a starting spot. This time of year is quite taxing because everyone is working hard physically and mentally on the court, while trying to excel academically as well.

It’s safe to say that for most and for me in particular, if I’m not on the court I’m studying and if I’m not studying I’m sleeping. I’m doing everything possible to put myself in a position to get a starting spot and most of the time that means cutting out many social events.

From the beginning of the season I cut out partying and many social events with my friends because it wasn’t conducive to me achieving my ultimate goal, starting. This is not to say that partying is the only way to socialize; there were a fair amount of kickbacks, movie nights, dinners that I could have attended but decided otherwise.

Any athlete, current or retired, knows how draining a season can be and how important it is to rest when you get the chance. If you are really about your business, all you want to do is rest to get ready for the next practice, your next opportunity to shine, and I was about my business.

But here I am six months later and the season is over; I’m back to having a little more time on my hands and while we are working and building for next season I have the opportunity to put the breaks on basketball and get back to my old ways.

This is where my problem lies. After neglecting many of my friends for half a year and eating, sleeping, and breathing basketball, trying to get back in the swing of things is no simple task.

What is being social? I haven’t done it in months.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be social and I found myself asking so many questions. Do I even know how to do this anymore? Am I doing this right? Is socializing supposed to be this tiring?

This caused me to realize just how much I give up for basketball. While it is what pays my education in college and I am thankful for that, I realized that it does in many ways define my college career. I’ve never had so many people come up to me and say, “Hey Sydney, where have you been?”

The season really did steer me away from many things and people that I wanted to connect with. As much as I love basketball, it has caused me to put the majority of my college life on hold for extended periods of time, ultimately allowing me to feel detached from the college social world that I love so much.

If I had to do it all over again, which I will, I’m only a sophomore, I can’t say I wouldn’t change too much. I’m still going to lock in and fight for a starting spot and I’m still going to limit the amount of social events I attend because I have to stay focused and rest. But if I could change one thing, I would try and take advantage of other opportunities to be around my friends; visit them at home, support them in their extracurriculars and clubs and attend more dinners with them.

I have learned that as much as I want to focus on my season and be successful, there are healthier ways to go about it. It’s not so much about cutting things out of your life, its about finding balance in your life whether that be athletically, academically or socially.

Have a great week!

Advertisements

Leadership

Leadership

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

In all my years of being a member of a team, this statement has always held true. In a team each member is trying their best to not only raise their level, but to raise the level of the people around them. The people who are able to do this the best are usually labeled as leaders. Why you ask? Simply because they can capture the attention of many and make them believe that what they bring to the table is unique; they make them feel important, necessary and needed.

But how do you get to that point? While there are many ways to be a leader and everyone has their own definition, I think that it is hard to pull the best out of people when they don’t feel that you have their best interest in mind.

Think about it, if you knew that someone had full faith in your abilities, was ready to support you no matter the outcome and was completely invested in your success as well as in the success of the group, how would you feel?

It really all comes down to being genuine, and this is where most “leaders” fall short. To say you care and to actually care are two different things. Sometimes leaders have to go the extra mile to show this and to make sure that their followers know and understand their care for them.

For each leader this means something different. Maybe going the extra mile from someone is taking their colleagues out to lunch. For others it might be a candid conversation, but I feel that too often we set checklists of tangible qualities (i.e. time management, organization, etc.) that leaders should possess, and forget the intangible qualities (i.e. empathy, transparency, etc.) that are undoubtably necessary to be a successful leader.

What does it matter if you are available to your followers if they do not feel comfortable approaching you? An open door system only works if people actually walk through the door. That might mean you, as the leader, need to cross the thresh hold into the world of your followers instead of always having them come to you. Meet them half way and sometimes just go the full distance; I’m sure your relationship with them will grow tremendously after that.

What does being vocal and confident really do for anyone if they cannot see that their leader is fully invested. By fully invested I mean that the leader is ready to act upon their words if they have not already. If you do not act as an example for what you want to see, you are not a leader, you’re just bossy. Taking the time to demonstrate to your followers what you want to see carries more weight than simply telling them.

All in all, it all comes down to being genuine and good leaders are genuine; they care about the people that follow them and they show that. By doing so they empower the people around them to be the best they can be, which ultimately leads to an unstoppable and successful team.

Next time you get an opportunity to lead, don’t forget that while the logistical side of leadership is important, so is the personal side. People are going to want to do a lot more for you if they know that you care. Keep that in mind.

Champion

Champion

For anyone who may be experiencing tough times…

“We fall down sometimes, but we get right back up again because the ground is no place for a champion.” – Jesse Jackson

This past week I was on spring break and was able to enjoy the luxury of relaxation. So how did I relax? Well, like many people these days, I was glued to Netflix.

Skipping past Orange Is The New Black, High School Musical and other popular content on Netflix, I scrolled to a genre that contained 30 for 30 documentaries. If you know anything about me, you know I can watch 30 for 30 films all day, so it was the perfect storm; no school, no plans, just Netflix.

While I watched many documentaries, the one on the Youngstown Boys caught my eye. It was about the Ohio State football team and more specifically Maurice Clarett, their star tailback in 2003. I won’t give the documentary away in hopes that you will take some time to watch it if you get a chance, but I was able to pull out one powerful message from that film. It was the quote from Jesse Jackson written above.

If you have ever gone through a tough time or are currently going through one, I hope you find comfort in this post.

Life can be crazy sometimes. One minute you’re doing fine and the next minute it feels like your world, or what is left of it, is slipping through your fingers faster than sand in your hand on a windy day at the beach.

We’ve all experienced something, that we felt we would never recover from. Something that has shaken our world so much, we became numb to the thought that this is life and we are living it. But it is just that, we are living; therefore, we are succeeding because every day that we get on this Earth is an opportunity to get it right, to turn things around and to start anew.

I may not know what each and every one of you is going through, but I do know that if you are reading this, you matter, and you have to believe that. You have to know that you are strong enough to get through whatever obstacle(s) might be in your path, and that “your present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in you” (Romans 8:18).

It’s always easy to give up, but mustering up enough character to get through whatever you are going through is well worth the pain. Picking yourself up off the ground that you hit time and time again is important. Why  you ask? Because the ground is no place for a champion like yourself. Know that there will be light at the end of your tunnel, but you have to get up and continue to look forward to see it.

Be blessed.

Family

Family

You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them. They’re family!

I feel that you go through phases in life when it comes to appreciating your loved ones.

  1. When you’re little, your parents are everything to you simply because you cannot do anything for yourself.
  2. As you get older and become more independent you start to push them away in an attempt to form your own identity and become independent.
  3. But once you have had your taste of freedom and independence you realize that it is not all that it is cracked up to be. You realize just how important your family and support system really is.

That last step is where I am in my life right now. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent almost two years in college and realize that not having to worry about rent, bills or groceries was truly a blessing.

Or maybe it is because I’m from Georgia and I chose to go to school in Virginia. When I get homesick or want to travel home for the weekend, I am quickly reminded that home isn’t down the street, let alone a two hour drive.

Or maybe its because for the ten years prior to me playing college basketball, someone in my family was always in the stands cheering me on; once I got to college, that all changed. This luxury that I often took for granted was no longer available and it affected me more than I anticipated it would. The fact was, my family had their lives in Georgia to tend to and I had mine in Virginia.

But this past week, for the first time in a while my family was able to make it to one of my games, and despite our team lose I couldn’t have been happier to see my support system in the stands.

Being away from my family for the past two years has allowed me to learn many tough lessons on my own. It has also shown me what a blessing family is and why they are necessary for my success.

It’s not that I did not appreciate them before, it’s that I appreciate them more now because I have lived life without them and seen that life is not as beautiful.

My Challenge To You: No matter what category you fall under, young and dependent, the independent teen, or the college student making this same realization, don’t wait any longer to show appreciation for your family. They are ultimately the people who know you best and are your support system. Don’t wait until they are not around to realize what a significant role they play in your life.

Networking

Networking

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

I’ve never been one for group projects or collaborative work, especially in school. Often I think, “Who better to do it than me? I’m dependable. I don’t need help.”

Coming out of high school I thought that once you got to college most of the group work was over. I’m sure you could imagine my disappointment when I read my syllabi fall semester of my first year only to find the words, “group work” in more than half of my assignments.

Well, here I am a year and a half later humbly telling you that group work isn’t that bad. I know, it’s quite a change of heart but let me explain.

If you take a second to think about where you are in your life today, chances are you did not get there alone. You had the help of your parents, friends, teachers, classmates, mentors, the list goes on. The idea that it takes a village to raise a child, or even an adult, is correct.

Now think about where you want to be a year from now. Do you want to land that new job, start a new company, apply for graduate school, get accepted as an undergraduate? Whatever your goals may be, think about how many people you will need along the way.

Drake (the rapper) lied in his song “All Me”, because chances are it wasn’t only him who got him to where he is today.

Living in a day and age where people think that struggling alone is necessary and that asking for help is a sign of weakness, I’m not surprised that I despised group work as much as I did. I’m also not surprised that I had an “I can do it all by myself” mentality either.  But here I come to you humbled and corrected.

Maybe it was just high school group projects that gave collaboration a bad name, but allow me to retitle it for you. It’s called networking.

It might be that I’ve been bitten by the LinkedIn bug, or that I’ve actually done a fair amount of face-to-face networking in the past couple weeks, but I never realized just how helpful other people could be.

While there are people out there with their own agendas, it is important to realize that not everyone is out to get a leg up on you. Some are truly there to help, and want to help you if you allow them.

My Challenge To You: Don’t be jaded. Don’t let your pride or unwillingness to work with others hold you back from reaching your full potential. Remember even the greats needed help, so don’t feel you have to do it all alone.