As the plane took off this morning for the Dominican Republic it marked the fourth time I will be attempting to qualify for an Olympic Games. It was one of those moments that unexpectedly fills you with the warmest gratitude. Each quad has been vastly different, as this one has been as well.
I didn’t know what would come of my partnership with Alix, I just knew she possessed qualities that I value, that her motivation was right, and that she’d work her butt off, which has all held consistent, and no doubt will continue to. But because Alix had zero points we started at the bottom, in the country quota, and didn’t know where we’d go from there. It’s been astonishing to see how much better Alix has gotten, and how quickly. It’s as if her learning curve is backwards, she just keeps getting better, faster. And it’s really rewarding for me to be apart of that. I always said after Rio I wanted to help someone new develop their game and one way or another it came to fruition and I am grateful for that (and I love how it proves how powerful the Universe can be).
We are now starting again, however. This tournament (NORCECA Championships) will be our first Olympic qualification event, followed by two FIVB 4 Stars; one in Yangzhou, China and one in Las Vegas. We’ve put ourselves in a good jumping off position, which was what the majority of this year was about, but now the hard work starts.
At the same time, the longer I play the more fun it gets. For a long time I played through doubt and stress and fear. I often felt like my life depended on success, that I would be an overall failure and let my partner and everyone around me down if I didn’t play well and win. This wasn’t a debilitating thought obviously, and I actually mistakenly believed it served me, driving me to perform, but WOW did it cause major burn out and fleeting satisfaction. So I made a commitment at the beginning of this quad that I would play for me. By that I mean I would strictly believe in myself and play with confidence, I would look at my mistakes objectively to learn the lesson and then move on (point by point, match by match, event to event), I would not let it affect how I thought about myself as a player or person. I made myself understand that at this point in my career I deserve at least that much. I surrounded myself with people I respect and love, to collaboratively create our #ATeam. I committed to viewing every event as an opportunity for our team to get better and just see how good we can be. It has made all the difference. There are still ups and downs and major frustrations, but I finally feel well equipped to deal with them and fully enjoy the highs. And I am happy.
As this process starts I am prepared for more ups and downs, but it feels great to be all in with my #ATeam no matter what, committed to learning, doing the best we can, and having fun. I hope you’ll join us, cheer for us, and follow along!