When you wake up in the morning, what drives you?
My team has a ritual where we do something special to pump the team up before every game. Last Saturday we played Lehigh and before the game some of my teammates handed out little slips of paper that said, “What is your why?” on them. They got the idea from the HBO show, Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns. The show goes into detail about how Brown’s linebacker Christian Kirksey stepped up as a leader this year and used this activity as a way to motivate his teammates. He challenged them to write down the reason they practice, workout, play on a piece of paper and put it somewhere they will see every day to keep them motivated and remind them why they are doing what they do. My teammates and I all sat, thinking really hard about what drives us to work hard in practice and give it our all in every game. After everyone was finished writing, we listened to what each player had written on their piece of paper. Playing for the girls next to me, for the ones who came before me, for my family, for those who sacrifice to support me…. were just a few of the things that were said.
For me though, it wasn’t as simple as “my family” or “my teammates”. I stayed at BU for a fifth redshirt season, not for my family or my teammates. I put my life on hold to play one more season because I couldn’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without competition. Yes, there are adult leagues for field hockey, soccer, basketball and every sport imaginable… but nothing compares to hearing the national anthem before a game or hearing your name called out in the starting line up. That mixture of exhaustion and satisfaction after you won and played well is something so unique, something you can’t get from playing soccer at the local stadium or basketball at the gym. I thrive in a competitive environment and it will be tough to fulfill that part of me when I am done. After this, competition in my life will consist of staying on the treadmill longer than the person next to me, getting more active calories on my Apple watch than my dad, and playing basketball against my 16-year-old brother in the driveway. So I wrote down on that tiny piece of paper “Because I love to compete”. I wake up to work hard in practice, lift, and in the classroom because I owe it to myself, because I know part of me would be missing without competition.
Find what lights your fire. Whether it is for the teammates and friends by your side, the family supporting you, or just for the love of what you do – find your why. It will motivate you, it will pick you up when you’re down, and it will inspire you.