"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard" - Tim Notke
A week before preseason the anxiety starts to build - "Am I prepared?", "Did I play enough?", "Am I fit enough?" Every athlete asks these questions, constantly doubting his or her abilities.
It's August 6th and the Boston University field hockey team is back on campus in its entirety. There is a mixture of excited and nervous energy as everyone is reunited. Something in the back of everyone's mind is 'fitness testing' - the most dreaded obstacle. It is difficult to think about anything else until those tests are completed. Some players are pleased with the outcome, while others are disappointed. What many don't realize is the hardest part is yet to come.
With expectations from the previous years, the pressure is on - to remain undefeated in the Patriot League, to win the Patriot League championship and to make it to the NCAA tournament. Each day is a challenge to become better in different areas of our game. In preseason, the focus is on the fundamentals and tactics. This is a time when we develop our structure, practice set plays and become familiar with playing with each other again.
Only a few weeks away from our season opener, we have to maximize our time on the field together. We dive straight into double sessions, strength and conditioning, film, and team meetings with our mindfulness coach, George Mumford. It doesn't take long before simple things like walking become a daily struggle. To maximize our recovery, there are several things we do to take care of our bodies. We regularly use foam rollers to roll out our muscles after sessions. It is often recommended to endure an ice bath to reduce swelling and soreness. Nutrition and hydration play a key role in the recovery process. These fundamentals ensure that our bodies are prepared for the next day's hard work.
As intense as preseason can be, it is a time we value because of the relationships we build. It is important that all 21 of us are on the same page and to do so we have five core values that act as the foundation to our team - joy, integrity, fearlessness, fire, and selflessness. While each individual can interpret them differently, the meaning as a whole unites us. We created and defined these core values with the help of George Mumford. To be successful in our sport, our coaches and players understand that there’s a mental component and that we must prepare psychologically. Like any family, we have our share of problems. With the help of George every few weeks, we talk things out and brainstorm solutions. We practice mindfulness on a daily basis through meditation and deliberate breathing. We know how important it is to exercise our minds in addition to our bodies.
Although it is a struggle, I have returned to play for my fifth year as a redshirt senior. Having been an athlete my whole life, I have come to appreciate the grind and nature of competing. Today is game day... day one of my final journey.