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Stop Choosing Easy
For most of us here in the South, we're well underway of a new start to the school year. A new year for coaches means cuts and roster changes of athletes. For track and field coaches, that means courting athletes (and parents) with misperceived notions about this sport and its purpose. Track and field is the perceived "easy" sport to join if you can't make the cut in another sport. Didn't make the soccer team? Join track. Cut from basketball? Try track. Don't want to be in P. E. class? Sign up for track. Want to learn how to run instead of competing to run? Join track!
An athlete told their soccer coaches they needed to take it "easy" by their doctor's orders because of a previous injury. So, to compromise, they would join something "easy"—like track and field. But it's not just the kids. Some parents tell us they want their child to join track because they need to "get in shape."
Unfortunately, students and parents find out sooner than later that this is a competitive sport with standards. This sport requires diligence to master certain technicalities associated with specific events. It takes commitment to consistently push your hardest and fail until you find a breakthrough. Track and field requires skill and grit to endure workouts that aren't always "easy" to ensure a spot on the team, let alone any success.
Sometimes, the student-athletes who come for "easy" stick around and find success. They discover that "easy" isn't all it's cracked up to be and begin choosing difficult paths. What once looked like resistance and obstacles turned into opportunities for them. Discovering those athletes is a coach's joy.
But what good is it if we preach accepting a path of resistance, difficulty, and grit if we, too, are expectant of ease in our lives and coaching careers? Many coaches only want to work with the most skilled athletes who only need polishing or refining instead of molding and shaping.
A good polish only removes the thin layer of grime from what everyone can see. An unpolished shoe, for example, is still a very noticeable shoe. Molding and shaping, however, requires assessing the potential for what is unseen and diligently removing all the noticeable flaws to create a masterpiece. The great artist Michelangelo Buonarroti said about his marble sculptures, "The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material." It took Michelangelo about three years to finish the famous Statue of David. For coaches, that's sometimes about how long we have to shape an athlete if we remain loyal to the task. Doing so is not always fun and, indeed, not easy. But when has easy ever been worth it?
So assess where you're choosing "easy" in life. Stop choosing easy, whether it's health goals, get-rich-quick dreams, relationships, or trying to make a track and field team. Easy is momentarily satisfactory, but diligence, grit, and perseverance build longer-lasting benefits that can last beyond lifetimes. Stop choosing easy.
One Quick Note: Next week, we'll begin our Range book study, written by David Epstein. We'll cover some of the topics throughout each chapter. If you have the book and there's any particular subject or line you'd like broached for further detailed analysis, leave a comment below or message me.
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