Lasting Lessons From Athletics
Inspired by a list from @mventre. I think sports are very important to people's development.
1. Missed a birthday party
I played organized basketball from about age 8, through (fraternity league) college. There was one game when I was 8 or 9 that conflicted with a birthday party I wanted to go to. My father told me that I was part of a team and taught me the importance of being there for my teammates, the priority that teamwork should have. He was 100% right.
2. Two home runs in one game
This was little league. I played baseball for a shorter time. This was a confidence builder.
3. All done with baseball
My last year playing baseball was summer league going into 10th grade. I modeled my batting stance after Rod Carew. My batting average was sky high, like really high but I went the entire season without an extra base hit. This was a good lesson in humility. It taught me about limitations.
4. Cross Country running
I ran cross country in 7th and 8th grade. I was averaging about 17 minute per meet. Then we had a meet with Day Junior High School and their best runner was a girl named Margie May (we were friendly in high school which is how I know her name). I was determined to keep up with her for some reason and while I did not finish with the same time, I shaved two full minutes off my time and maintained a pace in the 15 minute range the rest of the season.
This taught me how powerful the mind is which helped me several times later in life.
5. Middle school basketball
Our middle school was 7, 8 and 9th grade. In 9th grade I had a lot of games where I scored more than 30 points. This also built lifelong confidence.
6. 10th Grade basketball
I did not start the season on the varsity. I torched the JV but the varsity coach did not like me. The coach was kind of a prick, quite a few guys on the varsity quit. I decided not to quit. I did get called up after other guys quit. I learned a little about looking ahead to understand the consequences of action taken from emotion and also learned that things might not go the way you want right away. Both of these lessons helped me a couple of times as an adult
and played a big role in the problem going on with my day job and how that appears to be resolving overwhelmingly in my favor.
7. 12th Grade basketball
I missed my junior year while I received cancer treatments. I was no longer on a path to playing in college as I outlined in a previous list but I could still shoot. I didn't start other than a few games but I scored kind of a lot of points per minutes played which gave a sense of validation to all the time I'd put in before and after I got sick. I hit a game winning shot from almost half court against North Quincy High School. Our last game against Brockton, I told my buddy Colin that I was going to go off, I had 12 points in the first half but for some odd reason didn't really get any run in the second half. When I watched the replay (our games were televised) even the announcers wondered I wasn't in the second half. This was the same coach from 10th grade but the lesson was believing in myself to still be pretty good even if I had no future and doing what I said I would do in that last game.
I never considered giving up.
8. Discovering beach volleyball in San Diego
My fraternity had a sand court and I took to it right away. I played all the time and got pretty good. I played on the fraternity team which was 6 on 6. I played far more 2 on 2, played in a bunch of tournaments getting 2nd in one 2 man tourney and 5th in a mixed doubles tourney. I wasn't a good hitter (couldn't jump well because of the cancer aftermath) but I was a very good setter and had a rocket of a jump serve at a time when very few players including pros, jump served. I overcame my lack of hops by learning how to place shots where my opponents weren't.
I was able to overcome some things not to be an elite player but to have a tremendous amount of fun for quite a few years.
9. Locker room
I benefitted from the locker room environment I was exposed to all those years. This helped me in the fraternity, then my first job after college and probably most importantly, helped me foster a group dynamic in the fire department where the guys (and gals) have fun and stay with the department for years.
Kind of related, the locker room environment of getting teased, giving it back and even getting bullied taught me how to be a dude.