Going All Out to Make Mistakes

I was lying on the couch reading a book about coaching when I came across this phrase that kind of stuck with me. It was something along the lines of, “mistakes are the stepping stones to achievements.” It’s such a small phrase, but holds big meaning behind it. One that can apply to both sports and life. Since it was a book about coaching it made me think about softball, the girls I coach, and my playing career. In softball, mistakes lead to errors. Which brings me to reflecting on my years of playing. 

Although there are many softball games that I cherish in my memory, there are two specific ones that I often look back on. So much so that I actually have the article and stats of those games printed out. One being a game that some may say is the best game I’ve ever pitch; the other is the last game I ever pitch. Both are very important to me, but their outcomes are complete opposite of each other. One led to a victory, while the other led to my career ending. However, the only one I want to focus on is the last game I ever played. So, let me just set the scene up for you:

It’s conference tournament, only us and two other teams are left. Only a few games away from winning the championship. It’s the bottom of the 12th, the other team has a runner on third, and there is only 1 out. I’m on the mound putting my heart into every pitch, like I have the whole game. Lefty slapper up to bat, hit, hard grounder to 2nd, error, runner scores, game over. Us: 4 runs, 9 hits, 6 errors. Them: 5 runs, 9 hits, 3 errors. Now, a lot of you could have predicted the outcome without me explaining the details just based on those ending stats. Which gets to my point…

 Errors. 

Those errors led to that loss. It happens, that’s life and I think it could make a good point to the girls I coach for a couple of reasons. First being an athlete’s reaction when a teammate makes a mistake or error. After my teammate had made that error and the run scored, I didn’t get mad at her and blame her for her mistake. Because it wasn’t all her fault we had lost, and everyone’s made an error before. Heck, there were 5 others made just in that game. Which gets me to the next point. Without those mistakes and errors how will we learn and grow to get better? If you’re going to make a mistake wouldn’t you much rather make one knowing you were giving it your all? I mean you’re more likely to make a mistake if you constantly worrying about making a mistake.

Oddly enough, I think that game is the best game I’ve ever pitched. I don’t look back on that game and see that we lost. I look at that game and see that I went all out and left everything on that field. I gave it my all, knowing that even though it could be the last game I play, I wasn’t going to be scared to make a mistake. Making the outcome of the score unimportant when reflecting back, and the experience memorable. If only you knew what the other game I had mentioned earlier was. Then you would question my thoughts on my best game. But that’s a story for another time and another blog. Until then, go all out in everything you do and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Ready to get that “go all out” mindset? Schedule a free mini-session with one of our consultants today!

~ Victoria

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom Blog Picture

If the world was a perfect place, you would be in every hall of fame. But I know even that wouldn’t be enough.

Despite all the coaches, trainers, and teammates we’ve had, you have always been my biggest supporter. 

You may have never had the opportunity to wear a medal, hoist a trophy, or even get your name announced over the loudspeaker, but I always knew that you deserved every ounce of recognition that was given to me.

You never openly told me, but I now know how hard it was to pay for my athletic career. 

I never went without. I was always able to do whatever my heart desired, and you made it work. And I know it would be impossible to try to measure the amount of time you spent driving me to and from practice, tournaments, and private lessons. 

Looking back on it now, I should have said thank you 100 times a day. The thousands of dollars of equipment you selflessly bought for me is now packed away in various boxes and collecting dust in the garage; most of it broken due to both overuse and underuse. I was too blinded by my own childhood dreams of playing forever that I never realized that you would be there for me long after the game ended.

Mom, you were always there for me even when I didn’t play. You would tell me “You did so well!” Even when the most action I got was drinking the two Gatorades you got me before the game. You didn’t care because you were going to support me no matter what I did.

Sports have taught me a lot about how to deal with adversity and how to push myself beyond my previous limits. But you, Mom, told me I could overcome anything. No matter how frustrated I was with the slumps, the disappointments, and outright failures, you told me to keep going when I wanted to quit. The encouragement you gave wasn’t empty or merely words to make me feel better. You always told me “You are stronger than you think. You can do this.” Those words have meant more to me than you will ever know.

You have loved me in so many ways. 

You told me I could when no one else believed; not even myself. You were always there to offer me a hand whenever I didn’t want to get up from whatever just knocked me down. You pulled me from dark places when I was injured and couldn’t play. Your support was bigger than sports. 

I thought you were preparing me to have a good next game, but I realized that you were preparing me for the next chapter of my life.

Sports didn’t make me a better person, you did. 

I love you, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Matt Crawford, MA
Matt Crawford, MA

From Athlete to Coach

From Athlete to Coach Blog

Everyone either knows a coach, is a coach, or has been a coach. Because of this I know each one of you have at one point in time thought, “What was that coach thinking!?” Hopefully I’ll be able to answer that question. 

From someone who was an athlete her whole life up until this point, I always knew that it took a certain kind of person to be a coach. Not just any coach, but a good coach. Although many have asked me if I would ever want to become a coach, I never thought of myself as one who could fulfill those big shoes. However, here I am talking to you guys; not as an athlete, but a coach. It has not quite been a year and I already see just how big these shoes are to fill. 

Now, you are probably already asking yourself the question, “Victoria, why are you making such a big deal out of this?”

My answer to this?

I don’t just want to be any coach.

I want to be a good coach. One whose athletes will look back on the things I taught them and say, “She helped me become better.” And I’m not just talking about becoming a better athlete, but a better person. As a coach who was just a college athlete only a year ago, I anticipate the young women on my team will look up to me . They will see me as a role model. They will see me, someone who has played at a higher level, and want to learn the skills I learned to get where I was. If I want to be a good coach to the girls on my team then I need to meet all of their expectations and more. This is why every day that I step into my role as coach, the shoes I am stepping into seem so big to fill.

An athlete to coach road block.

One of the first road blocks I have faced in my journey to become the best coach I can be has been a struggle I have always seemed to face without knowing it. That struggle is my youthfulness, or in other words, how young I look. 

Again, I already know what you’re thinking at this point, “Looking young is a blessing, how could that possibly be a struggle?” However, I work part-time as a cashier at a grocery store, and the number of people that come through my lane and ask if I’m old enough to scan alcohol is just past the point of being sad. 

Being a 22-year-old who has been mistaken on MULTIPLE occasions as being a 16-year-old, you might see a problem considering I coach a 16 and under travel softball team. I knew there would be an issue when I went to try-outs and one parent asked if I needed a player sign-up form…. You should have seen her face when I told her I was the coach. 

My biggest challenge as a former athlete and new coach.

Because of my youthfulness, being taken seriously has always been a challenge. I knew that my biggest task to face as a new coach would be earning respect from players and parents. When approached with this issue I knew the only way to show how serious I was about this role I have taken on was to create a list of expectations for myself, my players, and their parents. I recently held a team meeting where I gave everyone this list and went over each point in depth. Hopefully, these expectations set a good tone for how I want my team to be and show how serious I am about my role as a coach.

One of the first things I’ve learned from just talking with Dr. Sterling, was how much athletes need and want structure in their lives. And I can agree how true that is. Anyone who knows me knows my love for making lists. This list of expectations is the first of many that I have made towards my journey to becoming a good coach. And somewhere along this journey I hope to be able to answer the question, “What was that coach thinking!?”.

Ready to take a look at your own expectations and step it up? Schedule a free mini-session with one of our consultants at Sterling Sport Mindset today!

Victoria Haugsness, Head Softball Coach & Sterling Sport Mindset Intern

Victoria Haugsness - Intern

Life without Sports: Now What?

Life without Sports: Now What?

What do we do in a life without sports? Maybe it’s time to do that thing you never had time to do before.

So, this is a new situation. Stores are closed, school is closed, there are no athletic events to participate in or watch on TV. Going to the gym is not an option, and a trip to the mall is out of the question. So, what do we do? Well, binge-watching GoT again is a possibility, or maybe the Mandalorian on Disney+, or insert whatever other show is up your alley.  

Another possibility is to do that thing that you have always wanted to do but you never got around to because you did not have the time or maybe you just told yourself that you did not have the time. May that thing be learning how to play the guitar, read the Harry Potter series, bake a cake for the first time or even learn the basics of coding/Microsoft Office/Photoshop and so on.

There is no better time than the present and guess what, that present is finally here. You might be cooped up in your house with your family or roommates now, hopefully not driving each other too crazy. You have all this time on your hand because you are not traveling to work or going to school, so why not make the most of it. 

But how do you start?

Life without Sports: Productivity Tips

First, instead of trying to do a lot when you start, it is better to take a small step in the right direction. For example, you want to learn how to code, the first step you can take is to find a website that would guide you through the process and sign up to it. It is more likely that you will build momentum if you take small steps that would carry you forward rather than decide that you will take this new “hobby” from 0 to 100 on day one. 

Second, write a list of goals. Write them as if you are negotiating with yourself what you are willing to do. For example, on day one you will find a site to learn how to code and you will sign up. On day two you will browse through the program for one hour to see what it will be like. On day three you will take the first lesson. As you build more momentum you can adjust your goals and start to invest more time and effort into this project. 

Third, let people know what you are doing. If you do so then those people will help keep you accountable. They will remind you what needs to be done and help you stay on your toes. 

Fourth, write down your why. If you know why you are doing what you are doing it will help keep you on track. For example, if you learn how to code then it will help increase your hiring prospects in the future. 

Fifth, keep your goals at a visible place in your room. This will remind you what you agreed you should do. It will increase the likelihood that you will go through with your project. 

We are always told to make the most out of every situation, to make lemonade out of lemons and so on. In this unsure time, when Corona is no longer just a beer brand, doing what you can is as pertinent as it can be. So pick up a habit, decide on a way to challenge yourself and take this extra time that you have on your hands to finally do that thing you always wanted to do, but never got around to.

If working on your mental game is on your list, let’s talk. Schedule a free mini session to get started.

Tomer Blas
Tomer Blas

An Open Letter To the 2020 Seniors

to the 2020 seniors

2020 Seniors, by now it is all starting to set in; the realization that you will never play the game again. It was not supposed to end this way. I am sure a lot of you, if not most, had visions of riding off into the sunset with a championship in your hands. Others saw themselves getting one more spring in the sun, enjoying the game that they had played for their whole life, ending your career with another season full of memories.

But now all of those thoughts are just that, thoughts. Nothing more than wishes that will never be fulfilled. It is unfair. No one could have prepared you for having this last season being stolen from you. Do not let anyone tell you that it was “just a game” or that “life goes on.” I am also sure that a lot of people have said something like, “you are onto bigger and better things!” Those people mean well, and they are correct in that way of thinking, but a part of you died the day your season was cancelled. A part of you that you can never get back. 

2020 Seniors, give yourself time.

Give yourself time to mourn the loss of the season. This season might have been the end of your career. No more practices after class with your team. No more bus rides to away games. No more hanging around the field, track, course, or court with nothing to do and nowhere to go. No more early morning lifts, conditioning sessions, or scrimmages. You ate your last meal as a competitive athlete, and you had no idea it was happening. 

The fact that the season cancelations were so sudden is what makes this whole situation such a dagger to the soul. Usually when you are a senior, you see the end coming. You might not necessarily count down the days to your last game, but you are definitely aware that the end is near. You were supposed to have time to prepare for the end, but you, a member of the 2020 class, did not have that luxury. Your final season was stolen from you.

Believe me.

Believe me when I say this; I am deeply sorry for your loss.

It would be wildly unfair for anyone to tell you that they know what you are going through. Even those people who had a season cut short due to injury do not know the unique pain you are currently going through. There are not many people who had their final season ripped away because of a pandemic.

But where do you go from here?

Especially with the school cancelations and time spent couped up at home, you have had hours and hours to just think.

I know most of you cried when you found out that you were suddenly a retired athlete. Don’t worry, I cried too. Everyone does when it is all over.

But I am here to tell you this; someday, it will all be okay. Maybe not now, a week from today, or even a month or two. But trust me, you will be okay. That might sound cliche right now, and it probably is not what you wanted to hear, but it is true. Sports are beautiful, aren’t they? Maybe you did not have the glamourous career that everyone wants or sees in the movies, but you had your career; no one else did.

2020 Seniors, take a moment.

Take a moment to just clear your head and only think of those positive memories that you had from your sport. Really define why you loved the game and what you will miss. If you are able, I suggest getting together with your teammates and just fellowshipping as a team. Use this time as an opportunity to encourage those who are younger than you. Tell them things that you wish you would have known when you were their age.

Whether you know it or not, you learned life lessons in your own way that you will take into your next chapter of life. As you enter the real world, you will be able to quickly differentiate who played sports and who didn’t. As an athlete, you will have a natural competitiveness that non-athletes won’t be able to create on their own. Whether you are going on to college or the workforce as a former student-athlete, use the skills your sport gave you to bring up those around you to be their best.

You are so much more.

Here is the final thought I want to leave you with that I, myself, struggled with after my playing career was over: You are so much more than an athlete that played your sport. 

2020 Seniors, for some of you, this sport was a major part of your identity. Perhaps you were even known as the “softball girl,” “the golfer,” “the track star” or that “baseball guy.” You might have lived your life with your sport at the center of it. Family vacations had to be scheduled around your games, and sometimes going to Atlanta, Georgia for a tournament was your family vacation.

Saying no to things was a common occurrence for you growing up because you always had practice or a workout somewhere. You missed out on a lot of things that other kids got to do who didn’t play your sport. But here is the thing, you didn’t care that you had to say no to those things. Never having a spring break was absolutely fine with you. Why? Because you were busy falling in love with a sport that you couldn’t see your life without. 

2020 Seniors, you are still here.

That sport is gone, but you are still here. The sport is not your entire identity; it was a part of you, but not all of you. It might take a good amount of time for you to find out who you really are beyond your sport, but you can do it. How do I know? Because athletes who have dedicated their life to a sport are used to rising above adversity and becoming stronger afterwards.

Take some time to take it all in and digest everything. I suggest taking the time to personally thank your parents, siblings, coaches, athletic trainers, and teammates for everything they have done for you over the years. You have not gotten to where you are completely by yourself, but by the support and encouragement of those people that love you.

Good luck to whatever is next for you.

Work hard in everything you do, and then work a little harder.

You are stronger than you think.

Matt Crawford, MA
Matt Crawford, MA

Next steps: Schedule a session with Matt or learn more about what happens in a mini session.