Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Bench?

benchcheering
Credit: picphotos.net

I was a bench warmer.

For a long time.

I know all about sitting the bench, riding the pine, being a scrub, third stringer, token player and last one picked for teams.

I know the feeling of going to the huddle after warming up for a game, surveying the lineup and looking for my number in one of the starting six spots.

I know the feeling of not seeing my number on that paper for, like, the whole season.

I know what it feels like to see #3 and get excited, but then realizing it’s really a #8 and you’re not going in after all.

I know what it feels like for my stomach to sink, my shoulders to slump and tears well up in my eyes as I walk down to the end of the bench to take a seat on the fold-up chair three in from the back. The last chair has the water cooler and then the one next to that has the medical kit or a stack of towels.

I know what it’s like to not be the first one to get subbed in, not the second one, not even the third one to go in.

I know what it’s like to sit game after game after game and still not go in.

I know that feeling of hope when the coach looks down the bench at his available players and I know what it feels like not to make eye contact so you don’t embarrass yourself when you don’t get picked.

I know what it’s like to make eye contact and then feel embarrassed because you didn’t get picked.

I know what it’s like to be subbed in, serve one and then shake hands and go home.

I know what it feels like to know that was my playing time for the next several weeks.

I know what it’s like to feel angry, sad, disappointed and confused all at once.


Nobody wants to be on the big bad bench, but here is what I don’t know: 

I don’t know what it’s like to feel sorry for myself.

I don’t know what it’s like to think that being on the bench was the end for me.

I don’t know if I would have ever been good if it weren’t for my time on the bench.

See, being on the bench was the best thing for me. It forced me to do other things with my time (Oh, I goofed off plenty, I was a kid, remember?).

But, I’m an observer, so in any given situation I’m not just seeing things, I’m learning things. It may take a little time, but I’m always observing and learning and taking in information, thinking up a strategy, figuring out a contingency plan or working some kind of formula in my head.

For example, I watched and watched and watched Eric Sato jump serve at the ’88 Olympics. I studied the mechanics, watched his toss, examined his feet in relationship to the service line, looked at his arm swing and then put together a formula to try it myself.

I was still a bench warmer when I taught myself how to do this.

I knew a starting position wasn’t going to be handed to me and if I was going to play I would need to differentiate myself from other players who were bigger and stronger than I was. Nobody else was working on that skill that summer. See? Strategy, contingency plan and execution.

Now, listen.

I was still on the bench, which meant that I was STILL ON THE TEAM and if I was on the team then I’d still have a chance to:

  • LEARN
  • OBSERVE
  • LISTEN
  • WATCH
  • FORMULATE
  • PLAN

Just because I was on the bench didn’t mean my brain was turned off.

I was still on the team, which meant I still had a chance.

So, to my fellow bench warmers, I say this: the character you build when your immediate dreams and goals are deferred is not anything you can train for.


And, that jump serve?

Earned our team three straight points (with me coming off the bench just to serve) in a victory against our biggest high school rival.

That’s what sports are made of.

Teammates Are For Life

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Teammates are for life.

Anyone who has played a sport longer than a year or two knows that there is a special bond between people who have gone into battle together. A roster full of strangers at the start of a season, you are molded into a team over the next seven or eight months.

Strangers no more, bloodied and bruised by the battle having given all to the team for one last fight.

Fighting for a common cause. Fighting for dignity. Fighting for respect, honor. Fighting because that’s what we came here to do – together.


In the previous years, I’ve seen my former teammates struggle with very real life stuff. I’ve seen them trip, fall and get beaten down by the aches and pains that life can and does cause. I’ve seen them triumph, overcome and rise.

It’s a beautiful process seeing it from the outside.

It encourages my soul. I feeds my spirit.

I too have fallen. I too have been beaten down and I too have also gotten back up.

I recently had dinner with a teammate of mine and after some good, real conversation I said something like this:

“It doesn’t matter who we were or what differences we had when we played or where we left things at that time. When you go to battle with people, you are bonded for life.”

I meant it.

When one of my teammates hurts, I hurt too. When they celebrate and overcome, I celebrate too. That’s the beauty about being on a sports team. It connects you in a way that you could never articulate at the time – and even if you had your differences off the court, nobody cared once you stepped foot on the court.

It was game on.


To this day, my teammates are my people. They get my jokes and I get theirs. I know when they are holding something back and they know when I am too. We laugh about old stories and then laugh even harder that everyone has their own version of the same story. We support each other off the court, perhaps better now than we did when we were playing (although, my teammates took pretty good care of me back then to be sure).

I can text or call them and a wonderful conversation ensues with all the laughs.

They are my people, always will be … and they are fantastic human beings.

Who are your people? Who are your teammates for life?

Sports Messed Me Up!

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I have written a lot about the benefits playing sports had on my life. Truly an amazing experience and one in which to this very day and this very moment, I can cite incredible opportunities and experiences. But, I didn’t escape unscathed. Sometimes I scratch my head at my thought process and think to myself “man, sports really messed me up!”

Here’s what I mean…

LEARNING IS MY DRUG – I’m not one to torture myself physically in order to display of some sort of prowess. I do not ever feel the need to sign up for a race in the mud where I am electrocuted or smothered in cockroaches nor will I ever attempt to base jump off a rock face in a human wing suit just for the rush, but I have been known to take on challenges that push me physically and mentally when I have no business doing said activity. And I do this regularly.

I recently told a friend “I love the learning process. I’m a learning junkie, but once I’ve kind of figured it out, I’m all ‘meh.'” Learning, yes. Mastery, moving on. Dude, that’s messed up!

FILLING IN THE BLANKS – In sports you play a designated position. You are responsible for a specific spot on the court or field. You have responsibilities that you need to perform, people you need to block, balls you need to get to. In practice, you work to hone these specific skills and field/court positions, but errrrrybody knows in a game, you are playing to win so you just do what it takes. You fill in the blanks. There is an element of chaos in sports and even though athletes are trained to stick to their positions, we also instinctively know to react to chaos.

It’s why you see #79 (no one ever knows #79’s name) somehow get a hand on an interception and run six yards for a touch down. Chaos.

In life after sports, however, I’ve had to wait for people to ask me to do something or I will do all the things and then I’ll be tired like #79 because #79 isn’t supposed to run for touch downs (even if it’s only six yards). Dude, that’s messed up!

LETTING GO IS A REAL THING – There will be times when you have to walk away from something you care about. There will be people you cannot play well with. There will be times when you care about something way more than any other person involved in a given matter. There will be situations where there is no passion and there is no heart and you have to just let it go. There will be some situations you have to quit or give up on because it’s not worth what it costs you to stay involved and…Dude, that’s messed up!

QUITTING IS A NECESSARY EVIL – Winners never quit. Quitters never win. Never give up. Don’t give in. Lay it all on the line. Push yourself beyond your limit. No pain, no gain. All in. Blood, sweat, tears…I know, you wrote the book and yet, sometimes you must quit. It’s like taking a step backwards in order to move forwards but no one talks about that in sports and…Dude, that’s messed up! 

MIND GAMES WITH YOURSELF – “Retirement” isn’t ever retirement. It’s just a mental shift and the deal you make with yourself when you agree to stop keeping score. Except, you have to try really hard to not keep score because, um, athletes always keep score. It’s built in self and team preservation. One day you get to a place where you realize “wow, I haven’t kept score in, like, two years and that’s awesome. Wait, no it’s not? What’s the score?” Dude, that’s messed up!

EVERY SONG IS A WALK-OUT SONG – Sometimes I walk into Target with the Queen/Bowie song “Under Pressure” in my head and I think I’m running out of the locker room onto the court. I’m walking into the game of my life, head high, chest puffed up and then I’m all “where is the toilet paper isle?” I don’t even have to tell you…Dude, that’s messed up!

40 DON’T MOVE LIKE 20 – Remember that line from Top Gun “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” Of course you don’t remember that quote, because only old people remember that quote! But that’s life after sports. Ego firmly in tact and writing checks all over town, body is like…Dude, that’s messed up!


Some of these are tongue in cheek, but some of these are for realsies. I think this is what makes transitioning from sports to regular, normal everyday life so difficult (yeah, everyday, normal). Wouldn’t change one thing about my experience and I don’t live in this place every day, but sometimes it sneaks up on me and…

Dude, that’s messed up!


Open 2Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer and social media consultant in Phoenix, AZ. She holds her Crossfit L1 Trainer Certification as well as the CrossFit Mobility Certification and an undergraduate and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has written for Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, Art Business News, CrossFit Fury and the CrossFit Games. She is married with two children and in a former life played collegiate and professional volleyball. Despite this post, she is well-adjusted and living a totally normal life after sports.

10 Valuable Characteristics You Are Developing Through Sports – Right Now

photo cred: Kim Johnson Photography
photo cred: Kim Johnson Photography

I might not be as mighty as I once was in the physical sense, but everything I developed in sports is still alive and well (and kicking) in me as a person. So, how will I accomplish my goals, dreams and live out my passions in the new year?

I’m going all-in on what I already know.

Check out these 10 valuable characteristics you are developing through sports – right now.


1. WORK ETHIC: The line is the line. The final score is the final score. Volleyball games are not won at 24, they are won at 25. When I’m coaching and I see a kid who is three feet shy of the line during shuttle runs or lunges, I see a kid who won’t make it very far in higher level sports. You may squeak by on athleticism or size in the early years, but that level of effort will not last. If you are an athlete looking to be a champion, you have to cross the line every time, not just come close. You have to finish all the reps. It’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to make you tired and frustrated and, yes, you’ll feel accomplished once you finish.

Coolest thing ever: This work ethic will stick with you forever and be a part of whatever you set your mind and heart to.

2. TEAMWORK: The coach chooses your teammates, you don’t. In any given season, you are asked to work with one, two, five, ten other people. Each of them is different, each of them possess a separate set of skills different than you, some are better than you, some are not but you all have the same goal in mind – to play at the highest level possible and hopefully get that win. If you cannot work well with your team or effectively manage your skill set to work with everyone else, you are not a team player. Period.

Coolest thing ever: Those who manage this well can work with all kinds of people throughout their lifetime, it is an athlete’s adaptability that will make them successful in any arena and make working more fun too.

3. INTEGRITY: I have a quote I came up with a couple years ago:

“Winning at all cost is for the ego, winning with integrity is for the soul,”

I’ve won games at all cost and I’ve ticked off teammates and coaches in the process. But, I’ve won lots more games with integrity. It’s when I know I did my best, busted my tail for every play and never quit. It’s when I didn’t rely on a referee or home court advantage for the outcome. Winning at all cost requires us to compromise something in order to win. It asks us to compromise our integrity. Calling a ball out that was really in (or vice versa) serves no one.

Coolest thing ever: When you win with integrity, it feeds and nurtures your soul. It transcends the game, the field and the court. It makes you a winner in life.

4. PERSEVERANCE: Some days you don’t get out of the drill until you finish the drill. Some days you have a really hard time finishing the drill. A good coach knows what you are made of and will push you to finish, even when you doubt your own ability. Finishing the drill when you are tired, gassed, on the verge of tears is how perseverance is developed. When you want to quit, when you want to be angry, when you want to walk out of the gym…and you don’t…that’s when you develop perseverance and begin to see what you are made of.

Coolest thing ever: When you have a goal or a dream, you know it will be hard to see the finish line from the starting line, perseverance keeps you from giving in when you know there’s more in the tank.

5. PATIENCE: If you’ve been at sports for longer than one season, you know things don’t happen over night. Good things take time, great things take a lifetime. Much like perseverance, patience is a practiced virtue and a discipline. Champions know how to wait things out even when results aren’t immediately visible.

Coolest thing ever: While everyone else clamors for the shiny stuff on the surface, you are developing a character of gold that will shine longer than a sparkle.

6. RESPONSIBILITY: What uniform is your team wearing? Is it clean? What do I need for a full day in the gym for my upcoming tournament? How much food will I need? What will keep me nourished and give me energy throughout the day? What do I need to do between practices to recover: nutrition, mobility work? What school work do I have due before I get on the plane for the next out of state competition? The earlier you take responsibility for yourself, the better. Your mother is not going to college with you.

Coolest thing ever: Your mother is not going to college with you.

7. FEEDBACK: It’s not always fun and it’s not always nice, but you don’t get any better if you cannot take correction or listen to feedback. Coaches know the sport we play and can give us an accurate assessment of our ability and spot areas where we need improving. Athletes are ever changing, ever evolving and on a constant journey to improve. Feedback is an important part of this journey.

Coolest thing ever: Your ability to hear feedback will allow you to adapt and adjust to many situations. You don’t know everything and accepting that will make you a great player in sport and in life.

8. FOCUS: Like perseverance, patience and work ethic; focus helps us set, strategize and execute goals. It is laser pointed efforts to attain something that you want. Perhaps it’s a skill, a particular team, a college scholarship, a personal record in the gym or on the track. Focus requires planning, discipline and dogged determination to follow through.

Coolest thing ever: Once you learn how to focus, even the peskiest distractions cannot get in your way.

9. STRUGGLE: I recently saw something like this posted on social media: “winning isn’t normal.” I loved it. In sports, we learn this to the nth degree. In order to win, you have to work harder and smarter than every one else. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still lose. But, the upside is this: losing creates an inner struggle, a struggle we need in order to develop resilience. Struggle leads to resilience leads to getting back up and trying again and again and again…and again (and again).

Coolest thing ever: Losing creates the necessary struggle to develop resilience.

10. STRATEGY: Strategy is the plan you have going into a game. Strategy is how you change that plan when the first plan doesn’t work. Strategy is your mind working all the livelong game/match to adapt and change while you are still playing the game.

Coolest thing ever: Failed strategies lead to adaptability and/or new strategies.

I have many things I want to accomplish in the new year, instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to cash in on some of these beauties and see where they take me. They’ve been good to me so far. Happy New Year, athletes!


photo credit: Jobrina Hofleit Photography
photo credit: Jobrina Hofleit Photography

Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer and social media consultant in Phoenix, AZ. She holds her Crossfit L1 Trainer Certification as well as the CrossFit Mobility Certification and an undergraduate and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She is part of the strength and conditioning coaching team for AZ Epic Volleyball at CrossFit Fury and has written for Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, CrossFit Fury and the CrossFit Games. She is married with two children and in a former life played collegiate and professional volleyball.

The Silence is Deafening | Speak Up

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people, you aren't," Margaret Thatcher
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people, you aren’t,” Margaret Thatcher

The situation has been rectified.

An apology extended and the words, however inexcusable, have been forgiven.

See, last night someone called me a prostitute. Okay, the actual words were “high-end call girl.”

To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to.

I wasn’t scantily dressed, nor was I behaving in manner that would suggest my line of work was being governed by Heidi Fleiss and paid out by Charlie Sheen. I was, in fact, at a dinner party.

After wresting with how to respond most of the morning, I came up with this: I know the words spoken to me to be untrue, therefore, I was not deeply offended as an individual. But as a woman, a daughter, a mother and a wife I have a responsibility to respond not just for myself, but on behalf of my husband and my children and women everywhere who endure this kind of treatment on a regular basis. My silence does nothing for anyone. Here are a few things that came to mind:

  1. Using derogatory words (yes, “high-end call girl” is derogatory) to a woman or about a woman is inappropriate under any context. The statements usually reflect more about the person speaking them than the person receiving them. These words perpetuate negative stereotypes and can feed into a culture where men take advantage of women. In my time as a marriage and family therapy intern, I heard one too many stories of young girls who had been taken advantage of when the man’s behavior had been excused. Grown men excused of rape or sexual harrassment because the girl was to blame either for her clothes or her behavior. These young women were in therapy because of abuse or harassment against them. The men, who knows. So, yeah, maybe you think it was a harmless little comment at a dinner party, but the big picture here is not harmless and I bet you any girl who has been exploited by men on the premise of “just being men” or making harmless comments or harmless gestures would have a completely different opinion of this exchange.
  2. Silence doesn’t help anyone. I told my husband what was said to me. He was embarrassed that he hadn’t heard it and then he was sad that I had been spoken to that way. He placed a phone call. The person was instantly remorseful, even saying he knew this call was coming. He was also embarrassed. I got an apology. I believe we always have a chance to make things right and thanked him for the apology. I did not say “that’s okay” or “don’t worry about it.” Because it’s not okay and him worrying about it is probably a good thing. Nothing changes if I let him off the hook. Nothing changes if I stay silent. I did not apologize back, I did nothing wrong.
  3. I understand saying stupid things. I’ve said lots of stupid things. I’ve done lots of stupid things. I believe we all bond and connect at a human level when we admit to our own stuff and then share in that experience. I told this man that we seem to suffer from the same affliction, saying stupid and hurtful things and that’s usually a reflection of our heart. That’s where grace comes in. I only know of grace because of the vast number of times it’s been offered to me and so I give it back out. This man is human. I am human. We both need grace. End of story.

Was this worth fighting or holding a grudge over?

No.

I know who I am.

But it’s important to speak up when we feel there is a bigger injustice. It’s important to speak up when you know that letting something slide because it’s easier to sweep it under the rug than embarrass yourself or another person is not the right course of action.

These comments weren’t really about me, but more a peek into the heart of another person. But, I’m also not going to let people treat me without dignity and respect. I spent years being silent, that time has passed.

I hope this makes you think. Whether you are a man who thinks degrading a woman is funny or you are a woman who thinks it’s okay to be treated like a punch line or if you are someone who has witnessed various forms of harassment and have remained silent, it’s okay to speak up.

Even if you think what you have to say is insignificant,

it has significance for someone.


“…the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim,” Elie Wiesel, in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peach Prize, December 10, 1986.

“…one person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death,” Elie Wiesel, in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peach Prize, December 10, 1986.

 

 

You Have the Formula

It's history, but it's a reminder that I know the formula.
I have the formula – (Junior year, age 19, UGA)

Years ago, I experienced success as an athlete.

It wasn’t easy.

I was not a natural athlete. I was small. I had an attitude problem. I didn’t listen. I did things my way. I was sassy and stubborn. I was passed over for teams. I was not seen as a threat. I was underestimated.

But I had goals.

I had dreams.

I had fire inside that no one could see.

I didn’t know it back then, but I was coming up with a formula for my success.

Creating an algorithm, a personal template for all future success.

I was writing big crazy number combinations on the chalkboard in my soul and “Good Will Hunting” myself right to the answer for every problem I would encounter from here on out.

I was creating my formula.


Guess what?

I’m still not a natural athlete. I’m still small. I still have an attitude problem. I still don’t listen. I still do things my way. I’m still sassy and stubborn. I’m still passed over for teams. I’m still not seen as a threat. I’m still underestimated.

But here’s the kicker.

I still have fire inside that no one can see.

I still have dreams.

I still have goals.

And…

I still have the formula.

I know what success looks and feels like for me and I know what it feels like to wait…

and wait…

and wait…

and wait…for it.


So maybe you are in the middle of that mad scribbling on the great chalkboard in your soul, and you are waiting.

You can’t see it yet but you are formulating your idea of success and defining what that means for you.

Maybe it’s not your time and you wait…

and wait…

and wait…

for something to materialize.

Don’t lose heart. You are creating your formula and when you have it,

you’ll have it forever.

Isn’t that something?

Breathing With God

Slow down, girl. It's okay to rest.
Slow down, girl. It’s okay to rest.

When my daughter was a baby, I spent a lot of time helping her fall asleep. An extrovert even in the womb, it was hard for her to settle down for the night.

Never ready for the party to end, too much to say, too much to still see and experience.

She was tired, but didn’t always know it.

I’d shut the lights off, close the drapes and sit in the big green chair in her room. Then, I’d give her a little time to tell me everything she was excited about.

“Look at all these things I can do! We shall talk about them” she would say with coos, giggles and screeches.


After I fed her, I’d rock her and sing her songs.

For many months, she slept or napped right there on me.

Mom, the human mattress.

It worked.

The rocking cued her to rest her head on my chest. I’d then hold her, one arm tucked under her body and the other arm around her back holding her against me. Then I took deep, intentional breaths so that she could feel my chest rise and fall in a slow, steady pattern.

Eventually, her excitement would give way to slow, intentional breaths that matched mine and she would be asleep peacefully in her mama’s arms – our breath one in the same.

That was the secret. Breathing as one.

Peaceful. Still. At rest.

She was tired, but she didn’t always know it.


I was thinking today that God is a lot like me in that big green chair and I am my daughter. He’s patiently waiting for me to slow my breathing, settle into a pattern of deep, intentional breaths that match His and just rest.

I like to be in motion. I like to have things going and I don’t always know when I’m tired.

Tonight, I got a chance to slow down a little, take an unexpected rest.

I took time to breathe with God.

Shame Storm

See it? The light...It's right there.

You know what shame is?

Shame is a crafty fox living in between your ears telling you all the stuff you hope nobody every finds out – stirring the pot and starting fights between who you want to be and who you are stuck being.

Shame is the old cassette tape you play in your head with all the old songs and lines from the liars, cheaters, the thieves.

Shame is the tiny cut that would have healed long ago under proper care, but is now infected from neglect.

Shame serves little purpose and yet keeps us from purpose all the same.

Shame tells us to stay small and quiet.

“Nobody likes big,” it says under its breath.

“Shhhhh….that’s our secret,” it whispers.

But buried underneath shame is life. Our life.

Our light, our purpose, our dreams, our destiny all trapped under a pile of rubble smothered by shame until we no longer recognize the bright eyed child we once were.

Early or delayed onset aside, the shame song is always the same.

You aren’t worthy.

You don’t measure up.

You are sick.

You don’t belong here.

You don’t need anyone.

You don’t have what it takes.

Shame.

The giant storm brewing inside just waiting to dump buckets when you least expect it.


Please don’t fear the storm.

Please don’t start singing shame’s song.

Please don’t be mystified by lies.

Please don’t snuff out the light or the beauty you have.

Please stop letting shame win.

It isn’t a worthy opponent.

There is so much more to fight for.


We need to even up the score.

We need to stop pretending that happiness or pleasure is the end all, be all.

Because I think we all know that doesn’t work anyway.

Self-medicating with prescription pills, drugs, alcohol, sex, food, violence and anything else we can get our hands on to quiet the shame storms rumbling inside our heads.

And, we feed the storm anyway.

But, wait, do you see that?

The light.

It’s right there.

It’s in you too.

It’s behind the storm.

And boy does it make a beautiful sunset.

8 Signs You Might Be A Former Collegiate Athlete

Because I can't go to my alumni game next weekend. These are my people and will always be my people.
I can’t go to my alumni game next weekend, will somebody please save me a pom-pom and get my free t-shirt?

Even though I graduated from college before some of you were even born, this stuff is still as fresh as the morning rain. I wouldn’t change a thing, but trust me if you were a collegiate athlete, you know that the struggle is entirely real.


1.Good Enough Doesn’t Cut It – You cannot get through a day without trying to do at least one thing perfect. I mean perfect, perfect. Not slightly perfect. Not kinda perfect. NO MISTAKES, perfect. Giving less than 115% is ridiculously hard, instinct kicks in and before you know it you’re full-on invested for no reason. I can no longer get myself anywhere near 100% physically but I have found ways to transfer that energy somewhere else. Dishwasher beware. Folding a t-shirt three times to get all the wrinkles out and formed into a perfect rectangle – done that. A vacuum attachment that can get the bug parts out from between the window pane and window screen was made for people like us. All the grocery bags from the car to the house, in one trip.

Pro tip: Choose your battles. No time to be perfect.

2. Paying For Shoes is Hard – It took me more than a year to buy a pair of athletic shoes after I graduated from college. Do you know how much shoes cost? I didn’t for a very long time and it still hurts to shell out the dough for athletic footwear that used to be free! Remember the first day you reported for camp? The big ol’ free bag of athletic apparel, shoes for playing, shoes for running, track suits, jackets, t-shirts, water bottles, knee pads, ankle braces (or any other sport specific gear)? All you had to do was pay for that in sweat, tears and a little blood. Not a problem. Paying actual dollars for athletic shoes? Now that’s just painful.

Pro tip: Volunteer for events that give you shoes for free.

3. Pining for the Training Room (It’s a thing) – If I could start every single day with an hour plus in the training room, life would be so, so, so good. Taped, massaged, heated, stemmed, stretched and ultra sounded to begin my day. Then wrapped with all the ice bags, filled with all the ibuprofen and perhaps an ice bath every now and again to shut it all down at the end of a long day. Pure heaven. It’s not that I can’t do most of this at home, I can, but the training room was one part PT and four parts social hour. I have found no comparison in my adult life. It is such good stuff.

Pro tip: Find a CrossFit gym and spend most of your time stretching and talking. Samesies.

4. You Still Need a Coach – Some days I have no idea where I need to be, how I’m going to get there and why I’m not surrounded by ten other people all the time. I used to think I was so organized. Turns out, I just had good coaches and good teammates. Organizing my own life without a coach and a team is so hard at times. Anyone who knows me knows exactly what I’m talking about. Wait. What are we doing today?

Pro tip: Wait. What are we doing right now?

5. Making Games Out of Everything – the desire to compete never fully goes away. But because I’m not actually a competitive athlete these days, I do need an outlet. I’m not ashamed to admit that my husband and I have gone to Chuck E. Cheese on date night just to compete at the football game without having to attend to any children. Sure we look weird being there without children and, yeah, there’s a little friendly banter but those kids waiting in line are going to have to keep waiting because I JUST HIT PRO-BOWL STATUS AND LAPPED THE TOP SCORE BY 800 POINTS. BAM! SUCKAS!

Pro tip: Do not take this out on your kids. It’s not their fault.

6. You Miss the Fans (and the applause) – Let’s face it, now that you live in real life – nobody cares. I mean, you really aren’t doing anything remarkable and so what if you used to do cool stuff, your kids and your coworkers are only concerned about what you can do for them today…like, right now. Plus, nobody is clapping or saying “great job.” This week I got my kids to school, hit a writing deadline, got cleared to back squat, nursed a sick kiddo and loaded/unloaded the dishwasher a handful of times (it’s only Tuesday). Guess what? Crickets. I miss the fans (and the applause).

Pro tip: Be your own biggest fan.

7. You Still Need Stats and Feedback – If there aren’t statistics, I don’t know what to do. How does “what we did” translate into “what can I do better?” or “how can I improve?” There is no “job well done.” We need the facts jack. We need to watch film, we need to rehash all the bad plays, we need to scrutinize the good plays and we need to know hitting percentages, assists, aces and blocking averages so we can get better for goodness sake! How are we going to get better? We need the stats! Stat.

Pro tip: Stop keeping track. You did good, son.

8. Where’s the Huddle? – Sometimes I wander aimlessly after I finish a workout or after I drop my kids at school just looking for a huddle to put my hand into. If there are six people in any given space, I will constantly be trying to get them all together just so we can count to three, say something amazing and break. I am still drawn to a huddle, to a team – a community. Collegiate sports wasn’t only being part of a team, it was being part of a bigger system, a bigger purpose, a bigger goal.

Pro tip: When there’s not enough people to form a huddle, start handing out high fives.


If you played collegiate sports (or were part of a brotherhood/sisterhood) you know that these communities can be hard to shake and can be hard to transition out of. The coolest thing is you can transfer all this goodness to other communities and other responsibilities in your life. Jobs, communities, families, relationships, churches, youth programs…you name it.

Pro tip: You learned much from your time as an athlete find ways to pay it forward, it’s a great way to stay connected to the community that was such a big part of your life.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

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One of my coaches once told my parents:

“Look, we aren’t comparing apples to apples here. We’re comparing apples to oranges.”

You know what that meant? It meant I wasn’t one of the good kids. I wasn’t strong, naturally athletic nor was I very big.

I wasn’t one of the apples.

I was an orange.

And oranges didn’t really have what it took to be good at volleyball. What wasn’t immediately clear that came into focus over time was that my coach was right.

I wasn’t one of the apples.

I was indeed an orange.


For all the oranges out there in a sea of apples.

Keep your head up.

Remember, the apples peak early.