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My Best... Today

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

I just sat down to take a breather. My morning consisted of an appointment with a cardiologist, an EKG, having the doctor put a heart monitor on me that I have to wear for the foreseeable future, and a call to schedule radiation treatment. I haven’t been myself lately. Not even close. People have noticed. People have commented without knowing there was anything actually going on. People have assumed that my behavior and lack of energy lately were because I didn’t care. They were wrong. It’s in me to care. It’s who I am to care more than anyone around me. How do you share with others what is going on in your life, though, without it sounding like some pity me, sob story? I’m an athlete. I’m a competitor. It’s in my blood to overcome, and I always have. I get knocked down, I get back up. It’s just what athletes do. So how did I get here? How did I get to this place where it became noticeable to others that my energy and light had dimmed? How did I get to this place where people assumed that my passion was gone and that I no longer cared? That’s a great question, and one that I have spent countless hours with doctors, in and out of offices, and getting cut on to remedy.

We all go through things in life. My story is no more or less important than anyone else’s. Most of us don’t want the world to know what we are going through while we are going through it. We are in survival mode, and truly just grasping onto little moments as we go that help us to make it through that moment or that day. They say that when things are tough, you find out who your true friends are, and “they” are right! You also find out who is being kind to you only to use you for whatever it is they can use you for. People that don’t really care to know what’s going on with you, but only what you can do for them.

My life has been a rollercoaster of incredible highs, and rock bottom lows. Again, not unlike many people. We celebrate the highs, and we scratch tooth and nail to get through the lows, and with the contrast that brings, we end up hoping for something in the middle as our constant. We hope we have made an impact on the people around us enough that they will be there to celebrate with us when the great moments happen, and be there to lean on as we claw our way back from the hard ones. Often times as adults, we find that our circle gets smaller and smaller over time as each type of moment reveals something about us and something about the people we surround ourselves with.

Anyone who has been my athlete, or a parent of my athlete can attest to the fact that I pour myself into the kids that I work with. I strive to show them that they are important, that they matter, and that they always have someone in their corner who is willing to walk through the journey with them to help them to be the best human and the best athlete they can be. I give my best effort every single day as I expect them to do the same. That’s just it, though. The contrast of my own highs and lows in life has taught me that my best effort is going to look different every single day. It has taught me that the world doesn’t want to hear your problems and that it comes to expect a certain standard from you. A constant standard that sometimes is unattainable and other times is below what you are capable of giving in that moment.

In the past few years it is fair to say that we have probably all experienced more lows than highs. Covid ushered in a world that most of us were completely unprepared to live in, and we did our best to adapt on the fly. As both a teacher and coach, my entire life became more about helping teenagers to adapt to the world around them, find the happiness in each day, and pick themselves up in the pursuit of taking control of their own life than it did teaching Spanish or teaching kids to play volleyball. The stress of seeing so many kids failing, falling behind, becoming depressed, withdrawing, and becoming self-centered while being in their own survival mode became too much. After school one day in the spring of 2022, I hit my breaking point and had my first, of many, stress induced panic attack. I knew right then and there that life would need to change and my only solution became to quit teaching. I could not give up on the kids that I worked with so I finished out the year, but my best became very subpar. Not because I wasn’t trying, but because I was. Unfortunately, I was feeling completely overwhelmed by the task of no longer just trying to teach, but facing depression with so many teenagers that I cared about. I was stretched too thin. I had been teaching and coaching for a decade. Often times I would work 100 hour weeks between the two jobs, but facing this new problem took its toll on me.

Fast forward to earlier this year and even not teaching, I have still been struggling. I have had some ongoing health issues that I had kept very close to the vest until the scars and monitors became visible and people started asking about them. My best, to me, is subpar, but it isn’t because I don’t care. In fact, it kills me that it is. I have seen seven different doctors, had 5 surgeries with one more scheduled. I have radiation treatments scheduled for the next six weeks. I am currently wearing a heart monitor, have had 3 EKG’s, and will go in for an echocardiogram in the coming weeks. Still, every night, I show up to the park and give the kids everything I have that day. Some days I feel great, and am able to give them more. Other days, all I have to offer is a smile, a kind word, and some coaching advice without my normal overly positive demeanor.

I’m not on here writing this so that someone can pity me. I’m writing this so that those of you who are struggling can understand that you are not alone. That I see you, and that I appreciate that your best today might not be what it was yesterday, or what it will be tomorrow. I am writing it so that my athletes will understand that I see them and that tomorrow will always be another chance to come back and do their best again and that I will meet them with my best tomorrow too. If we continue to give the best we have that day, every day, then the outcome doesn’t matter. When we look back on all of the days where we gave our best, we can always be proud of it, even if the people around us don’t appreciate that it was our best.

I had an athlete come to practice the last two days who gave me the best she had. Today she went in for heart surgery. I want this young lady to know how proud of her I am. I want her to know that I see her. That I see that even with her struggles, her best shined through the last two nights. I want her to know that her toughness was inspiring. Her demeanor facing a scary procedure was inspiring. I want her to know that as she starts to recover from this procedure that her best is going to look different each and every day and that no matter what it looks like that day, I know she’s bringing it, and I’m with her all the way!

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