This blog post is coming a little later after the last one than I had planned but I am still trying to adjust to the schedule that I have been trying to keep. I was in London, England for a series of meetings at the end of last week and had dinner with one of the students that I shared the In Their Shoes Project with last year. Hamish, who graduated from fashion design in June has moved to London to find work with a designer there and it was great to have a visit with him over a really good meal.
The women’s basketball team has just completed the 4th week of pre-season training and practices. Over the last 4 weeks I have thought a lot about commitment, about frustration and patience, about inclusion, and about the difference between mental and physical exhaustion. Today’s post is going to be about commitment.
These students devote so much time and endure wear and tear on their bodies in order to play this sport at a very high level. If you have been following the blog you have seen the schedule posted which includes 2-3 hours of activity together almost every day of the week. There are lots of things that they have to say no to in order to meet all the team requirements. It is Sunday afternoon and I am at the Mattamy Athletic Centre working on this post and some other work while I wait for our team yoga session at 6:30 pm. At Thursday’s practice last week, two players were having their knees iced, one had her shoulder taped, one was on the sidelines due to a groin injury and one was doing stretches between ice applications to her back. At my age, and even given my limited physical activity compared to others, my legs, knees and feet have basically been sore for the last four weeks.
I have said this before but I am still trying to truly understand the basis for the commitment and sacrifice that our athletes make. Some of it is a love of the game or sport that they play. Many of them have said to me that they can’t imagine life without playing basketball. They have tried to quit or stop in the past and could not stay away. It is like part of who they are is missing when they are not playing. Some of it is just focusing on something that they are really good at, a place where they have great confidence and have experienced success and achievement. I have often said, “I don’t do things that I am not good at”. So I understand the desire to spend your time devoted to something that you are good at, where you have confidence in your ability and something that you excel at compared to most of your peers.
Trying to do something that you are not good at is scary, humbling and sometimes embarrassing. If these young women were not so welcoming and encouraging I am not sure I could keep showing up. But whenever I find myself wishing I didn’t have to go to practice or training (mostly because I am too tired or feeling weighed down by an overwhelming “to do” list) I think about the idea of commitment to team. I know that they do not need me there in order to be successful, but I need to be there to truly understand the sacrifice they make and the importance of commitment to your teammates. They give up a lot…they miss a lot…I want them (and all of our varsity athletes) to see that I, as a representative of Ryerson, understand and appreciate their commitment. I will show that appreciation by living up to my commitment to be there every step of the way.
I also continue to struggle with the commitments that go beyond showing up. They are commitments that each of these players should be making to their own health and fitness so that they can perform at their very best for their team. If I want to truly live their experience I need to make the same commitments. These include:
- drinking enough water
- eating a healthy balanced diet with the right amount and kind of nutrition for the activities that I am doing
- working out outside of the team workouts and practices (or for me working out on the sidelines during practice)
All of this is really hard for me. It starts with over 50 years of sedentary overeating, adding in trying to keep a packed schedule and just feeling tired and sore a lot of the time. I have a meal delivery service that brings healthy meals to my home because shopping and cooking are hard to fit into my schedule but I still sometimes make poor snack choices. My commitment needs to be deeper and more deliberate. I need to resist being lazy. I need to avoid taking short cuts. I don’t know if I can do it but I am still determined to try…it is part of the commitment that I must make to the team and most of all to myself.