Preparation Meets Opportunity
“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”
As a athlete the one thing you always prepare for is Game Day. Usually this means an opening tournament to kick off the season. Nevertheless, there are those moments prior to this day that a coach cannot prepare you for. This is time for you as an athlete to sit with yourself and to reflect on what you’ve been taught, thus far, and to prepare for the upcoming season.
My time was always spend inundating my brain with music prior to ballgames. This was the time where I could not and would not be disturbed and with my focus becoming even clearer. I thought about lessons I had already learned and the specifics about our upcoming opponents. Some things were known about top players via scouting reports but there were a lot of unknowns. What I did know, though, was that I was being coached by someone who had faith in me and my abilities regardless of my own confidence. I also knew that I had a “team” that counted on me as much as I did on them.
The time that you take for yourself during these moments is one that might not be shared with the rest of the team and/or coaches. You imagine yourself making plays and potential plays. You think earnestly about what you’ve been taught about the game and more specifically “your game.” What are your strengths and weaknesses? And how are you as an individual player an asset to your team?
You reflect on how hard you’ve trained and those that have trained you. My number one concern each year was not whether or not I had been coached effectively. It was simply, how would I perform as a player. The heart, guts and ability was there but when it came to “game time” how would I measure
up? Would I give my all just to fail miserably due to opening day nerves and/or jitters? Would I succeed but only at the level of average?
I wanted to be the best and the best was what my goal was. In the rankings 2nd Place was first loser. Life is not about how much fun you have playing the game. And in life everyone doesn’t receive a participation trophy. Life is about winning and losing. Winning coaches don’t get fired. Top performing athletes don’t get traded. Sorry but I just don’t buy into “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose” theory. I was taught that winning does matter and as a athlete if that’s not your goal then why are you even trying or participating. I do, however, understand that perfection isn’t possible even for the most talented athletes. There are failures that occur that are also known as “lessons.” These sometimes come with a high price but you will inevitably learn from them if you’re willing.
The last month I have been spending some much needed time preparing myself for a moment such as this. I have looked back over the last 6 months since moving to Texas at the incredible struggles that still seem to have with no end in sight. I have thought about lessons that I’ve already learned from “coach” and her willingness to be compassionate and consistent. I have shot looks in the direction of my demons that you give to an opposing team’s players and coaches when you pass them as they prepare for the same game. The “stare down” is one that’s meant to size-up your opponent as well as to break them down through intimidation. And lately, I have stared my demons in the face with a look of “soon, very soon we will meet.”
Without preparing for a season both mentally and physically the results would be less than a desirable outcome. I’ve hoped and desperately wanted this opportunity that I’m about to have for some time now. And honestly, even through reflection it’s difficult to imagine that I’ve finally been presented with this very opportunity. The lessons already learned are some that have been very difficult and gut wrenching. But now……my demons will answer to me. Scared as I may still be to face them, I press forward in the battle for my life. And with any “luck” I might just succeed. Some say winning is about luck. But I say that it’s about “Preparation Meets Opportunity.”
“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”
– Derek Jeter