Being an Athlete of Life

Anyone else feeling super inspired by the Olympic athletes? My favorite event to watch is gymnastics! I have been practicing my handstands and cartwheels in the backyard for the past few weeks… a girl can dream, right?
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When I was in elementary school, we had a program on Friday afternoons during the winter months called “Lifetime Sports.” This was an opportunity for kids to take advantage of local Vermont culture by learning to ski or snowboard, or, if you were like me and didn’t have a desire to be out in the snow all afternoon, then you could sign up for activities such as cooking, knitting, or bowling. The main idea behind this program was to encourage kids to pick up hobbies that they could pursue for the rest of their lives.
This idea of “lifetime sports” inspired me to think about what it means to be an athlete of life. Being an athlete of life does not involve running, lifting weights, throwing or catching balls. It actually does not require any hand eye coordination or physical endurance. Being an athlete of life is about these three components:
Anticipating: As a field hockey player, I will never forget the feeling of intercepting a pass between two opponents. There was nothing like the rush of taking over possession because I predicted their next move. I realize that my ability to intercept passes was not a super power or a 6th sense- it was simply because I was a strong observer and I could interpret the details of in front of me in order to predict what was going to happen next. An athlete of life can anticipate the difficulty of the exam, the fun that will be had at a social gathering, or the sadness of saying goodbye to a loved one. As diabetics constantly anticipating the ups and downs of our days, we intercept with the strategy of checking in frequently.
Reacting: In many sports, there is often an element of surprise that requires us to respond quickly. How fast can you catch the line drive and then make a play at second base? How quickly can you eliminate the defender coming at you? Professional athletes spend hours practicing their sport and developing muscle memory so that their bodies can perform without their brains telling them what to do.
But then there are instances where nothing can prepare you for the current situation. Suddenly your team is a man down because of a penalty or a teammate is injured. How do you react? Athletes of life face obstacles every day that force us to react instantaneously. You get stuck in traffic on your way to work. How do you react? When someone else makes a choice that effects your mood? How do you react?
As diabetics, we are responding to our environment all the time. Someone brings in cake for a coworker’s birthday. How do you react? Your stress levels are high after breaking up with your boyfriend. How do you react? We can’t always plan ahead or deliberate over our decisions. Sometimes we just have to react in the moment.
Staying in the game: You go for the interception and get faked out. A line drive comes at you and, instead of catching it, you duck out of the way. These things happen. We do our best to anticipate and sometimes we aren’t accurate. We react to our surroundings, but sometimes not in the best way. Athletes of life won’t perfect every play or win every competition, but their passion for the game is never lost and their desire to play keeps them going long after the buzzer sounds.
As diabetics, we have to remember that there is no winning or losing. In fact, there isn’t even any competition. We are practicing everyday, learning and improving each time we strike out or overshoot. Do your best to anticipate and react, but always remember to stay in the game.
Comment below on your favorite Olympic event to watch or a life lesson you learned from playing sports!
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