Sports Reflection

Team means you are never alone

Volleyball is the fifth most popular sport in the world. Playing the game is exhilarating and watching it thrilling. Players strive for best, pushing to excel, feeling the rush. The crowd goes wild as we watch, mesmerized most often by the spike – the mighty slam both powerful and perfect, fearsome for the competition, energizing for the fans. Out there, on the court, it seems as if everything rests solely on the one who powers the ball meteorically toward cowering opponents.

But in truth, there are five other players on the court.

Team means you are never alone

Move forward, claim your future

Simone Manuel took to swimming like a duck takes to water. The Sugar Land, Texas native was introduced along with her two brothers to swimming because her parents wanted their children to be safe in the water. But by the time she was nine years old, she was pursuing swimming competi-tively. So adept to the sport that would take her to the 2016 Rio Olympics, she was nicknamed “Swimona.”

Move forward, claim your future

Golf great's integrity doesn't handicap game

"It’s not wrong, if you don’t get caught.”

I did a double take. Did I just hear what I thought I heard?

The person was adamant, “No one will know. What’s it hurt?”

“You’ll know,” I retorted.

I’m not kidding myself. It seems to be a part of human nature to shy away from telling the truth. But as real as that may be, I’m not backing down on standing up and being truthful. Despite a propensity to tell lies, we can choose to tell the truth and live a life of integrity. We can be people of good character.

Miracles really do happen

We call it a miracle when the unbelievable happens. It’s not that we cannot believe it could happen; it’s that it is unimaginable given the moment in time. College sports has a litany of miracle plays, games, teams to call its own, and for inspiration, an athlete can turn to these almost impossible stories and catch the vision that anything can be accomplished.

Playing through the ups and downs

l love watching volleyball. But I have to admit, I know very little about the game except for the basics, such as: six players take the court for each team and each team attempts to score a point by grounding the ball on the other team; in high school play, the first team to score 25 points wins a set, the team that wins the best-of-three sets wins the match; and finally, when the ball is in play, no player is allowed two consecutive touches and the team is only allowed three touches before the ball is volleyed over a central net to the opposing team. Need more information than this and I yield to actual players and coaches. 

Visualize the Prize: Keep your head in the game

I love going to Major League ballparks. I sat just rows behind the catcher at Turner Field in the venue’s inaugural season watching the Astros play the Braves. 

Later, when I was in Anaheim for a conference, I spent way too much for a last-minute ticket to catch the Rangers play the Angels. Sitting in an open-air park with thousands of fans is incomparable. Hearing the pop of a fastball pitch reaching the catcher’s mitt, seeing the batter swing desperately, and watching him return to the dugout on a three-strike count, and then, seeing the same player at his next at-bat making contact and watching the ball go over the deep wall, it’s great. Baseball in the big league parks is the best.

At the heart of playing sports

I’ve done my share of splinter collecting. However, sitting on the bench is not where most athletes aspire. If we had wanted to be spectators, we could have forgone all the sweat and hard work and sat in the stands. But there is something about competing that draws a person to being an athlete.

Now, what I said was athlete — not NFL player, WNBA superstar or professional golfer. Some reach that level, but most high school athletes are just one among the 7.8 million participants. 

Consider being a basketball player. Only about 3% of male and female high school basketball players go on to play college basketball — that includes all the colleges in the United States and all divisions. For male athletes, who wants to play for a Division 1 school, it’s even tougher. There are only 347 Division 1 college men’s basketball programs. Each team offers 13 scholarship slots. You do the math. At any given time, there are 4,511 players dressing out in the jerseys you dream of wearing one day.