Sidelined from Play? Time to Make Life your Final Four

Sidelined from Play? 

Time to Make Life your Final Four

To every young athlete yearning for your lost season, here is my recipe for your happiness and impact while you wait for the world to catch up to you! 

That unmistakeable feeling of the huddle. Of hearts and heads beating to the drum of the Captain’s chant and the crowd’s cheers. Moments before the draw or the kickoff or the first serve or the start gun. Your body, mind, and spirit connect in an explosive energy that you generate from deep inside and is fueled by the air and the awe outside. You summon your training and your team. You know you feel ready. More ready than you’ve ever been. 

It is hard to imagine replicating this moment in any other way. I get it, I know it. I’ve been there time and again. Gymnastics podiums as a young girl. State Championships in 3 Varsity Sports in High School. As a D1 athlete, 3 Final Fours, 2 National Championships, 2 years of All-American play and 1 invitational birth on the US Women’s Atlantis Team to culminate my career. 


Many of you are feeling devastated, sidelined indefinitely from your trade. For some of you, it’s temporary, and for some, seniors and athletes in closing collegiate programs, more permanent. The most important thing in your life erased in moments with words. You will continue to grieve the unknown and the news for a while and that is a good thing. Because you want your fire to burn bright during this time. So you’re ready to pounce. You're ready for when you do return to play. Or start a new adventure all together.


So let’s focus on what’s right in front of you. It’s time to make your everyday life the Final Four for a while. 


Know this: retired athletes sink into more sedentary lifestyles than non-athletes. You may find that hard to believe but it's a fact. And with unexpected time off, you have a risk of falling victim to this trend. You’re tired, beaten up, frustrated. And you may not have your coach beside you every day managing and monitoring your work and practice and health and recovery.

But you have a brain and body full of passion and knowledge, characteristics and skills, creativity, commitment, and relationships, that most of you have poured into your sport for at least a decade. So now we’re going to pour it into your life and others’ lives who don’t have your gifts and can benefit from them. 

I have 2 recipes for you. 

First, a Personal Leadership Creed (PLC) for you to live by during this new off-season. Second, a Tactical Impact Plan (TIP) for you to use to execute on this creed. To have huddles in your life. To make life your new Final Four, for now. 

PERSONAL LEADERSHIP CREED (PLC)

  1. Be the most curious person you know. Curiosity breeds connection, and connection breeds learning and leadership opportunities. Ask questions even when you don’t think you have one or even if it’s a simple or mundane seeming topic. You’ll almost always be surprised at the conversation it generates.
  2. Give everyday a Start Gate. Get outside your comfort zone and step up to the line, into the blocks, onto the platform. Raise your hand. Do something that scares you or puts you on edge, makes you a little nervous. Try to do this everyday. Whether it’s an activity or a video or an outreach to someone new. Any of those qualify!
  3. Form your village. This starts with your current teammates, but it can expand! Your village is not your social media followers, although some could be. These are the people you call on the phone and actually talk to. You reach out in tough times and vice versa. Use the graphic below and write the initials of your village into the little houses. Print it out, put it somewhere where you look at it everyday and connect with this group on a weekly basis in some little way. 

Now add 2 of your own PLC mantras! I would love for you to share them with me. Once you’ve got your PLC in place, you are ready to start your Tactical Impact Plan (TIP). Write this down too. I’m getting you started below but yours can be some version of this. 

TACTICAL IMPACT PLAN (TIP)

  1. Create a YouTube channel focused on your sport. Make 5 minute videos to teach youth athletes your sport or your skill. Share your talents and your energy with others in a focused way. Choose 1 skill each week and film 3 episodes. Send it out to 10 local schools and coaches in your area. 
  2. Cross-Train New Skills. Choose and practice new skills outside your usual bounds but relevant to your staying sharp. If you are a lacrosse player, grab a tennis racquet and a mitt. If you’re a sprinter, get a used Tri-Bike and learn to use AeroBars. Spend 30 minutes a day on your new skill. 
  3. Join your local Fire Department. An alternative, if available, is a Junior ROTC or ROTC program. If you are a natural born athlete, 100 bux says you will love it. Because you’ve got that thirst for service, strength, and spirit. During the Covid-19 crisis, there is no better way to use your skills and leadership, and sink into service. The training is challenging and fun. You’ll meet a new community to bolster that of your far flung teammates.  

I’ve got almost two decades on many of you, so the whole “make a video” or “make a connection” aspects of the above advice are going to be the easy part! Harder for you may be creating new structure, applying your competition habits to your home habits, and temporarily adapting to your new Final Four: your everyday life. See your Ready for Anything badge below, fill in your village and your action plan, and get back to me with how it’s going. Let’s stay ready. Let’s do this.


With love,