Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Phone Call

This blog post was inevitable considering that so much of my life is consumed by sports.  Last weekend, the top 48 athletes from my high school's track and field team spent two nights in Santa Barbara competing in the Easter Relay's track meet.  (Not sure why it's called "Easter" relays because Easter is next month...but the medals were egg-shaped so that was cool.)

As far as track goes, shot put is my thing.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, it's basically consists of manually launching a cannon ball weighing 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) as far as you can.  To put things in perspective, that's the weight of a new born baby.

Now I'm going to jump to the end here and tell you that I threw that cannon ball really well at this track meet.  I threw 6.5 inches farther than my previous PR (personal record) for a mark of 32 feet 4 inches.  A foot and a half farther and I'll be well into the all-time top 10 record list for FVHS.

I didn't tell you all that to brag, although I am quite proud.  I want to share why I performed so well that day so that others may benefit or that I may hear others' strategies and also benefit.  Lots of athletes have athletic ability but the ability to perform is another thing entirely.  All training is done before the day of the meet (or game).  On the day of the meet, all your preparations are done and the results have pretty much been decided.  I say "pretty much" because there is a HUGE mental factor that has yet to be determined.

Besides all the physical preparation, my mentality the night before the meet and the day of determined how I competed in Santa Barbara.  The night before as I lay in a cot in the hotel room, I envisioned what I was going to do the following day.  I replayed myself throwing over and over in my head- slowing parts down, emphasizing key elements, and playing it full speed.  I also imagined the shot put landing beyond the 30 foot line.

With all the mental practice, I didn't have to worry and think about my throw while I was at the meet.  I warmed up on my own and was conservative in my practice throws.  I was in the last heat, the heat with all the top seeded throwers.  So as I waited for the first heats to throw, I read a text from my dad who was at home, cheering me on.

Until they rejected me, UCSD was my top choice for college.  I was pretty upset that I didn't get in and comparing myself to the profile of last year's admitted freshmen, I couldn't see why I wasn't accepted.  The average ACT composite score (the most objective component of the application) was 29 and mine was 33.  Whatever.

While my competition and I were warming up, I chose several girls who threw about the same as me or moderately farther and in my head I decided that these girls went to UCSD.  And I was going to beat them.

One of the girls I was throwing against was the top thrower in the state and if she had gone to the Olympics back in 2008, she would have placed 28th with the throw she threw at Santa Barbara.  Instead of intimidating me, it only made me want to throw farther and prove that I could hang with the girls in my heat.

But the ultimate motivation was my dad.  In terms of athletics, he is my biggest supporter and my unofficial coach.  He goes to every meet and basketball game that he can, but this meet in Santa Barbara was too out of the way.  Of course, he told me to give him updates after each of my events.  What made me throw especially far that day was so I could make that phone call with happy news and be able to tell my dad how well I had done.

Varsity throwers are typically given 4 throws.  My first two throws were decent but nothing to celebrate.  I walked off on my own and refocused.  As I walked into the ring for my third throw, I decided that this throw was going to be for my dad.  I've never thrown so far.  Not in practice, not in a meet.

Needless to say that the phone call after the meet made me happier than any medal.  

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