We’ve learned a lot through this pandemic and have only scratched the surface on what we’ll take away from this. From a high school athletics standpoint, we’ve seen things take place that we never thought would be imaginable. Seasons were shortened or canceled, and crowds were often not permitted to watch. Traditions that have been around for over a century (think Michigan versus Ohio State football) were left behind this year due to the most unfortunate of circumstances. As a high school strength and conditioning coach, I must admit I’ve never seen such a roller coaster of emotions occur through less than one calendar year. I feel for the graduating class of 2020 seniors who didn’t get to play in their spring sporting seasons, as well as the class of 2021, hasn’t been able to chalk a predictable day up in months. For many of these student-athletes, this is their only window of opportunity to play competitive sports for their entire lives. For others, they have missed the chance to up their recruiting status and play at the college of their dreams since they could barely walk. So, what does it all mean? Do we as a society just throw our hands up and wish for this to never happen again? While we pray for that to be the case, I think more we can take away from this.
The word perseverance might as well be the tag line of 2020. We’ve all had something go awry this past year, and depending on how we reacted directly affects how we stand today. Sports in general, are already a great example of perseverance. If you’re down big at halftime, you know you’re going to have to do something special to come back and win. This year is no different. We’ve learned that the season may be shortened, shifted, or scrapped altogether (we even have some football going on in the Spring this year in Colorado). You must be ready to compete when your time comes. Taking care of the things that are in your control should be a top priority. This means proper sleep, nutrition, training, and staying on top of foam/rolling and mobility work. These things are your foundation, and no matter how crazy things get, you can always fall back on them to ensure some sense of normalcy.
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day
We all know that things don’t last forever, particularly in athletics. For most of us, we get a few short years to dedicate ourselves and compete at something we love in a meaningful way. Couple that with a global pandemic, and the opportunities get even slimmer. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind of a difficult season or practice, but you should always remind yourself how lucky you are to be doing this fun thing. You want to ensure that you give it everything you’ve got with no regrets left on the table. Before you know it, you will watch the clock hit double zeroes in the last athletic event of your life. You want to go out knowing that you enjoyed every moment and did all that you could do.
Playing without a crowd, taking a long bus trip to play another team, and having the game canceled none of it matters as long as we have the chance to play. Little inconveniences like this may have bothered us more in the past. Still, today we’ve learned to just be grateful for the opportunities we do get. Gratitude, in general, is an essential practice in our day to day lives. We can quickly become hyper-focused on the nuances that plague us. Still, when we take a step back to look at the grand scheme of things, we see that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Getting to be around your friends and teammates while participating in a sport you love is a pretty good deal no matter what global circumstances are taking place.
Onward and Upward
Remember that nothing lasts forever, good or bad, and what ultimately determines that utility of a situation is how we respond and learn from something. We can’t expect things to always go our way, nor can we pout about them when they don’t. Any negative situation can be mined of its positives if we just dig deep enough. Take the events that have occurred over the past year, specifically within high school athletics, and apply perseverance, the carpe diem mantra, and gratefulness.