That “bird” you see above, I love it and hate it. It represents the strength and power of the United States Navy, it provides a livelihood for our little family, it serves as a mine countermeasure aircraft, searching the ocean floor for mines that would take out ships in our fleet (primarily off the coast of NoKo), it keeps my husband late at night, or even months at time…it is the MH-53.
While I wouldn’t trade my college experience, nor my current life for any other…there are some similarities between a NCAA student-athlete and Navy Wife that one might describe as “undesirable”. That being said, life ain’t always easy; can I get an Amen?! In all seriousness though, I am sure any and every athlete is able to reflect on a past experience and somehow relate it to their current season of life. I 100% believe, if we allow it, we can use our life experiences, for better or worse, to grow not only as athletes, but also into a better person.
So, as you read this article, I challenge you to reflect upon your current circumstances and determine how you might be able to better yourself by learning from past successes/failures and apply it to your athletic game. Read on, mis amigos!
1. Some days, it is literally just putting one foot in front of the other. Truth be told, there were more than a few days where I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and leave my dirty shoes on the porch. Running was the last thing I wanted to do. If I am totally transparent, my lowest came when I found myself dreading running so much I called my mom crying, the night before a race. It sounds insane, I know!!! Looking back, I can say it was too! There I was, sitting on a hilltop in Arkansas complaining about the fact that I was representing Baylor to do a thing I used to LOVE. Fortunately, through some tough love and a friend, I got through the self-pity slump. What a big baby I was!
Fast forward six years later and I find myself sometimes calling my mom crying because I don’t know what to do about the shrieking Junie McDiva who cannot seem to be consoled for anything! It doesn’t make it any easier that my husband is frequently gone (Thanks Uncle Sam, but hey, somebody’s gotta do it! 🇺🇸😉) Case in point: some days you just keep doing your best and plugging along, one step at a time!
2. The little things can make or break ya! At the collegiate athletic level, crossing your “t’s” and dotting your “i’s” is a non-negotiable. If you aren’t taking care of the little things, you’re going to be a broken toy on the shelf, collecting dust. During my time at Baylor I suffered an IT band injury and a fracture to a metatarsal. I had a few other bumps/bruises, but nothing too detrimental. Warm ups, cool downs, stretching, strength training, cross training, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, not being too stressed, taking off days when needed, etc. Each item is a little piece of the puzzle, and when one is missing, it keeps you from prime performance.
Navy parallel: ignoring the “little things” in a military marriage typically = divorce. Sailor Man has been in the service just over a year, and within that time he has been gone about half of it.😢 It is very sad, but we signed up for it. Consequently, if we don’t ensure we are on the same page, it can make things more difficult than what you might consider a typical relationship. For example, really LISTENING when the other is communicating, understanding what the others’ responsibilities are (when he is home and abroad), managing finances, making the most of the time you do have together etc. In fact, divorce is so high in the Navy, that if a Sailor is caught cheating on his/her spouse, the Navy intervenes. I am not even kidding! If Sailor Man were to have an affair and his CO (commanding officer) found out, he would get called to Captain’s Mast (somewhere a Sailor NEVER wants to go) and be forced to call and tell me, in front of the Captain. When things are in sync in a marriage, it makes all the difference and allows your family to thrive, similar to an athlete churning on all cylinders.
3. Always focus on the positives. It can be SO easy to dwell on the negatives, but I encourage you to make it a priority to regularly list out all the things for which you are thankful. I am guilty of walking around with a rain cloud over my head, from time to time, but thank goodness I have a glass is ALWAYS half full kinda man. He is the yin to my yang, and quickly steers me in the right direction. Even though we have endured a billion (ok, not quite that many) sleepless nights since entering parenthood, he is the first to remind me how blessed we are to have a June 🐞. When I mope around before a deployment he grabs me by the waist and reminds me he isn’t gone yet. If he works longer than usual hours he rubs his fingers together, serving as a reminder of all the monetary benefits we have: AWESOME healthcare (thanks Tricare), free college tuition for our daughter, pretty penny bonuses and not to mention a roof over our head.
At Baylor, I’d say I was a happy go lucky gal 99% of the time, aside from a brief stint. But then again, how can you not love life when your sport is helping you fund your education, you get free gear, travel the country, early class registration, access to state-of-the-art facilities and per diem money to spend however you choose?! Sure there were times of disappointment: missing my family, sub-optimal races, stress related to scholarship for the upcoming year…but looking at the big picture, they were all first world problems. My time as a Baylor 🐻 was a once in a lifetime experience.
There is a saying in the Navy, ‘Bravo Zulu’, it means well done. A term used to congratulate a Sailor for the effort and desirable outcome he has achieved. While our seasons of life change, our mission remains the same: to excel at whatever is placed before us. Here at Elevate Athletics, it is our goal to use our experience and expertise to help you achieve greatness in your college athletic career. Take care of the little things, when things get tough keep trekking and always focus on the good…over and out.