An artist that rarely practices their craft will never be what they could. A talented musician that doesn’t practice hours per day will never be great. A gifted quarterback that doesn’t study defensive schemes will underperform and fizzle out.
In high school, I won 8 provincial titles in track & field and 2 OFSAA football bowl games.
However, In first year University I nearly quit the football team, and after not making the track team, I had to beg to stay on and even train with the team.
What the hell happened in between those years?
This is the story of the first.
To set the stage; in my final year of high school I had a really bad ankle injury which certainly didn’t help. I lost my entire final year of track. During that time I’d also been getting recruited pretty heavily for football…and at 165lbs I figured I needed to put on some weight. So I did…
Between actively eating everything I could, working out tons, and being pretty immobilized in terms of running, sprinting, etc. I created the perfect storm to show up to University a shadow of my former self- lean, quick, and confident in my abilities. Instead I was about 20lbs over my normal weight, much slower, and beginning to doubt myself.
I showed up for football practice every single day knowing that I wasn’t going to see the field that year which was something totally new to me. Occasionally I’d have a flash of brilliance in practice, but they were few and far between. I knew full well this was going to be my last year of football, but I showed up each day until the end of the year and gave my best because I am not a quitter.
Not only was I not on the team, but I was embarrassed and I KNEW that my time had no business being on the team. There was so much cognitive dissonance going on. I knew I could be good….but I wasn’t good.
Again, I showed up for practice each day and I worked hard. The coaches saw this and decided to invite me to come run at a meet in Windsor. One of the lesser important meets of the season. I slept through my alarm and missed the bus. Actually I think I set it for PM. I remember waking up realizing it wasn’t to the sound of an alarm and just feeling sick. Grabbing what I could, I sprinted down the street in the snow thinking MAYBE there is some way the team bus hadn’t left yet. The walk back home was awful.
It’s a great lesson to learn (unfortunately the hard way) that when there are people in your life that want to help you, teach you, and invest in you- you’ve only got so many shots at it before you get written off as someone who just doesn’t want it enough.
The season ended and I kept training on my own. My summer job was awesome. The hours were either 7-3 or 1-9. Lots of time to train either before or after work. I had mom’s home cooking again. It was also an Olympic year which fired me up like crazy. Everything was aligning.
And as the story goes, the next year I was chosen as a team captain- a spot normally reserved for those who had been on the team 3-4 years.
I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for sport and physical activity.
They have given me so much structure and discipline in my life. They make me think more clearly. They make me happy.
Often times when I meet people in the gym for the first time they in around that low point. They’re not happy with the way the look or feel. They’ve maybe let thing some things that have been important to them slip. The old saying “life gets in the way” is how we describe our situation. But it’s not going to change itself.
I’m here to tell you I’ve been through this twice and come out on the other side better for it each time. The second story is about when track ended and I found CrossFit, but that’s for another day.
If this strikes a chord with you, USE that emotional response.
The ones that take it head on and have an honest discussion with me (or another coach, family member, friend), are the ones who understand they need change.
They put their head down and do the work.
They deserve to be happy, too.