My eleven-year-old self is sprinting around the house, dribbling, juggling, and passing my soccer ball against the wall, no doubt driving my mother crazy, when my dad calls me into the family room.
As I look back through my 20/20 hindsight lenses, I realize that this was perhaps the most pivotal, defining moment of my athletic career. My dad went on to tell me that I had made the cut. I was now officially a member of the Michigan Wolves-Hawks soccer club, one of the most elite organizations in the state, known for breeding high caliber players. I was beyond ecstatic.
Flash forward a few years and I’m in a car, scribbling homework by the tiny beam of the car light (thanks for driving mom and dad on my way home from practice at ten at night. This weekend I have to skip homecoming because we have state cup.
This was around this time when I had to decide if I was willing to get more serious, if the benefits outweighed the sacrifices. I guess I decided they did. Though strangely, I don’t think it was ever a conscious, calculated decision. Fitness, competition, they were entrenched; it was just a part of life. Perhaps I sacrificed because somewhere deep down, perhaps at that same place where fitness and competition were ingrained, I always knew I wanted more from soccer than just a youth career.
Kindly step into my mind’s eye time machine once more as we travel two years down the road. I am sitting in a meeting with my coach and I hear him say “Oh I definitely think you could play Division 1 soccer.”
That certainly planted a seed in my mind. I never really allowed myself to think about the prospect until I heard it from someone else. Sure my parents had shared the same type of sentiment, but, let’s face it, in the eyes of our parents, the sun rises and sets on our tushies. So once I heard this from a credible source, I permitted myself to mull it around in my head for a while. Yet, not until I was organizing official college visits did I consider the idea entirely valid.
For all you Harry Potter fans, I ask you to step into my “pensieve” (or a time machine for those of you who don’t appreciate HP) one last time as we voyage another three years into the future, to our game against the University of Michigan, in my home town, Ann Arbor. I quickly throw on my jersey, pop in a piece of gum, and then sprint onto the field, cued by the announcer calling my name in starting the line-up. I high five my teammates as I run onto the field and settle into my place next to my teammates.
I decided to go to the University of Iowa, a place I never thought I’d end up. I couldn’t have made a better decision. I’m so happy with where I am and the wonderful people I’m surrounded by. That was one of my favorite games I have ever played. Not because of the result, or my performance, but because as I looked up into the stands, I saw just how many people supported me. My family, my friends, parents of friends, my dad’s soccer team, even a couple of my high school coaches and teachers. It was pretty incredible.
We all have our own motivations to be fit. Perhaps you enjoy the confidence it gives you, maybe you want to be healthy for your kids, or maybe you’re like me and you’re inspired to use your fitness, to share in it with others. Next January, my teammates and I are going to Arcahaie, Haiti to run a soccer clinic for local Haitians. For these people who have so little, their form of fitness and exercise, soccer, is their greatest joy. I get the opportunity to help give someone their greatest joy in life and I get to share in that joy. For me, that’s inspiring.
What inspires you? What is it about fitness puts the fire in your belly? What is it about life that gets you excited? Whatever it is, do it. Do it often, do it well. Fitness is journey; life is a journey, ones that don’t have a destination. Enjoy it, savor it, and allow it to take you where it will!