I had to reprint this one, as it still means so much to me and after just spending a long weekend trekking in the Alps with some incredible women, I return to this powerful.
I am grateful for being an athletic woman and feel inspired daily by others who use their bodies to the best of their ability, moving through pain, overcoming enormous setbacks and persevering through challenges that would level most.
So as you read this, may all of your days include workouts that inspire you and may we appreciate the machines our bodies truly are.
I had a nice conversation today in the gym with a trainer. We spoke about sports in general and discussed all of the lessons sports, training, and physical activity impart on us. I smiled, that deep kind of smile when something evokes passion and conviction in you and as I stood there pleading my case for sports in our lives, I drafted a quick overview of all the lessons sports taught me. I recalled the teammates that blessed me with their friendship and encouragement, and reflected on the coaches that inspired, taught and made me a better person.
Lesson Number 1 – Most of Life is Showing Up
The first lesson sports imparted on me was the simple, yet profound truth that most of life is showing up and thus, day after day, we turn up for practice; happy, or sad, tired, or full of energy. Despite not always wanting to train, sports teach us to be consistent and accountable. Thus lesson number one was learned – show up and put in the work.
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” – Fred Devito
Lesson Number 2 – Embrace the Art of Humility
There will be times when you ease into your sport like a skater on fresh ice, and there were times that you will struggle and falter. You will hit that mat hard, you will get sick and you will feel ruined, but embrace those moments, just as you welcome the victories. Humility and defeat have taught me that we are all on the same level playing field because we are all human and to be human is to falter. Maintaining humility is key by checking our self worth, never allowing ego to take grasp of us and therefore, lesson number two was taken into account. It pays to be humble.
“Victory is in having done your best. If you’ve done your best, you’ve won.”
– Billy Bowerman
Lesson Number 3 – Firm Hand Shakes Matter
Thanks to my tennis team coach, I learned that firm hand shakes in this life matter, as does looking your component in the eye or anyone for that matter and treating them with respect. To this day, I always remember her words whenever I reach for someone’s hand; no wet noodles, firm and honest because it matters. Third lesson noted.
“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.”
– Althea Gibson
Lesson Number 4 – Teammates = Friends For Life
Some of the greatest people we will ever meet, we meet through sports. Each day they graced us with their presence, their humor, support, skills and love. To this day, I am still good, if not incredible friends with the women with whom I played tennis, shared a lane in a pool or took long runs with. Those are our people, the people we sweat with, the people that show up to meet us and the people we confide in. Teammates teach us what it means to have someone on your side, rooting for you each step of the way because no accomplishment is ours alone for there is always someone there to help us rise to the occasion. We present our best selves when we are encouraged. Amen for that!
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, but eventually, it will subside and something else will take its place. If you quit, however, it lasts forever.” – Unknown
Lesson Number 5 – Deep Appreciation for the Human Body
Through sports and movement we learn to revere the human body. The human body, I have come to realize, is a very complex machine, one of which, we still know very little about. Through sport we learn deep respect for the body, we learn to fuel it with healthy food, plenty of water, necessary rest and required movement. We appreciate all that the body does for us, all that the body permits us to do and thus, we learn the valuable lesson of the art of respecting our bodies each and everyday.
On a side note, sports in my humble opinion, especially in the lives of women, are essential. Not only do sports teach us to respect our bodies, to value muscle over thinness, to be bold in our actions and to walk with confidence. Sports teach us to surround ourselves with those that have a mutual respect not only for our bodies, but for the intellect we have honed through sports, that determination and skill set that permits us to compete, to practice and to thrive not only in sport, but in life. Sport isn’t just about playing a game; it is about acquiring life skills that we use on a daily basis. Above all, through sport we are able to demonstrate the fact that we are capable, we are able and we are worthy and we always have been.
So thank you to all those sports that taught me to believe in myself, my skills, my training plan and the simple idea that if I put in the work, I should never cower or make myself small when entering a room. No one, especially women, benefit when other women play small and meager. Thus women should continue to walk with pride and exude confidence. Thank you sports, for instilling in me a confidence that though at times may be wavering, is still always at the core of my being.
“She believed she could, so she did.” – R.S. Grey