I'm sitting in the airport on my way down to the sunshine state. It feels like the first time in a while where I've been able to just sit and reflect enough to actually put my words together in a post. I'm headed down there for the NPGL draft that will take place tomorrow morning in Miami. This is exciting for me. I have been in talks with some teams and it seems as if the chance for me to finally call myself a professional athlete may actually come to form. It's significant to me because since I can remember that's actually all I ever saw myself doing. Of course the picture in my head was me on a hardwood floor, baggy shorts, high tops, a tightly tied headband in my hair, shooting the lights out in front of a screaming crowd - not exactly participating in an exercise race. After college I was presented with the choice to go on to play ball as a professional overseas, or hang up my jersey and become a "normal person" for the first time in my life. I'm not totally sure if I was burnt out at that point from so many years of playing, if I was just tired of dealing with my always aching knee, or if I was just curious what "normalcy" actually was. Maybe I was just being immature and defiant and almost wanted to prove my point that I was going to do my own thing and take a different path than expected. Whatever the case was, I hung my kicks up and stopped playing. It took me a few years and a few unfortunate experiences to grow a bit and realize I was silly for passing up a chance like that. Being considered professional in an athletic setting is reserved for the few and far between and something that should be honored. I am and always will be an athlete. The way athletics has been presented to me since I was 8 years old was in a 100% professional manner, it was fun but it was serious work - that was just the expectation. I always loved every second of that. I feel like God or some higher power had my back on this one and somehow convinced me to honor my gifts enough to be noticed and considered for the NPGL draft - a chance to finally call myself a professional. By tomorrow at noon I will know for sure whether that is the case. If it does turn out that way I will likely be spending the month of August with my team at training camp before we jump right into the season. Right now, all I know is that I am beyond excited and very blessed that I was able to have a second chance at something I've worked over 15 years of my life toward.
Although this seems like a huge event that is about to take place, I would be lying if I said that it has been my main focus. I return back home from Florida on Saturday with just enough time to unpack, have a few days, and then repack (which I hate by the way) and head out west to Salt Lake City, Utah for USA Weightlifting Nationals. "Nats" is where almost all of my athletic focus has been for the past few weeks. Weightlifting is something I enjoy a ton as a supplement to exercising and moving fast. I'm not sure I would ever be able to be strictly a weightlifting athlete. I enjoy running around and doing all kinds of weird things for time. I love the feeling of being completely destroyed and floored by a workout that only took 10 minutes. I love the break that fast, grueling, exercising for time gives my brain. It's hard, it's uncomfortable and I take pride in my ability to be able to endure it over and over. That stuff is just missing from strictly weightlifting. However, on the flip side - there is a part of weightlifting I love. I love the pressure that comes with it. The "hit or miss" nature of the sport provides an aspect similar to being a relied-upon 3-point shooter that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. I do like that it also seems to provide a bit of a break in random exercise-for-time training which allows my body to recover a bit and train with a single purpose in mind.
The main question I always get when talking about weightlifting meets is if I get nervous. I would be lying if I puffed my chest out and said I'm never nervous and being up on the platform doesn't bother me at all. The truth is yes, of course I get some kind of nervous before. I think anyone who told you otherwise would be lying. But there is always a calm that comes over me right before I get out there coming from my confidence in how I have been training and the skills I've been able to refine. The calm almost allows my physical body to take over and do what it has done a million times, it seems to leave my mind behind - at least the part of my mind that would get in the way. I think that's the beauty of weightlifting and sport in general. The outside world and everything else around you seems to be non-existent when the moment to perform comes. Nerves are part of any performance and that's exactly what sport is. Growing up, one of my favorite phrases to exchange with my teammates before we got on the court was "Lights Are On, It's Time To Perform". That's what I'm looking forward to most in Utah. My coaching staff has myself and the rest of my teammates (who are REALLY freaking good if you don't already know) fully prepared for the heat and pressure we will face out there. All that's left to do now is perform.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: