01 May Young Athletes, It Will Be Okay.
It will all be okay.
I know, your sports career gets uncomfortable.
But it will all be okay.
Failures are inevitable and you will be put through the ringer, but I repeat: all will be okay. The bad stuff, after all, is as fleeting as the good stuff – a continuous wave of struggles and victories, highs and lows.
When you move into acceptance that things can get icky at any time, you’re much more able to navigate with ease and not feel like your world is crashing down.
On the flip side, when you go into the perfectionist mindset and expect your career to be this graceful, linear path, things get wild when something doesn’t go your way. You become imprisoned by defeat and self doubt, overthinking and wonder to yourself if you are good enough.
To hammer home that it will be okay, I want to share the rolling list of failures and “oh crap!” moments from my youth soccer career
Let’s do this:
1. Broke my foot twice at age 12 and 13. Sidelined twice within a year.
2. Suffered a stress fracture in my back sophomore year of high school. Sidelined for six months.
3. Got cut from Maryland ODP at age 14.
4. Moved to a higher level club team in high school, the best team in Maryland at the time, and didn’t start for a year, hardly got playing time.
5. Missed my penalty kick in college during Conference Finals.
6. Didn’t start for the first month of college freshman year.
While these failures seem heavy and overwhelming, the good far outweighed them:
1. Made Maryland ODP the following year at age 15.
2. Learned proper nutrition and Vitamin D intake after healing from bone breaks.
3. Began strength and conditioning and earned a starting spot on my club team after a year.
4. Made ODP Regional pool.
5. Made Super-Y National Pool year after stress fracture return.
6. Got D1 offers from University of MD, University of Wisconsin, George Washington University.
7. Picked Johns Hopkins University.
8. Started every game of my college career (after I worked hard during that first month freshman year of not starting).
9. Though I missed my penalty kick in the Conference Finals, I scored the winning goal in overtime in the semis to send the team to the finals.
10. Broke the goal scoring recorded as a midfielder, awarded MVP every season, leading goal scorer every season, Conference Player of the Year, awarded Academic All-American 2x, awarded All-American 2x, awarded Scholar All-American 3x, awarded Johns Hopkins University Outstanding Female Athlete, awarded D3 National Player of the Year.
You see? When we focus on the good, in fact, write it all out, it takes power over the negative. Sure, the negative screams at us louder at times, but I urge you to write, even say out loud, the good. Even reflecting back on the bad from my youth career, it all seems so trivial now compared to where I am today.
Your sports career will never be perfect. You will fall short. You may get injured. You will be the worst on your team at times. You may not start right away. You might not get recognized and celebrated.
But just know, young athlete, it will all be okay.