We would like to congratulate these two inspiring young student-athletes, Caroline Boone and Ben Hite as our #HUSTLE Student-Athletes of August. They continue show tremendous amounts of GRIT and Sacrifice for their programs as they compete and enhance the athletic experiences for their program and communities. They are always committed to GROWTH and the GRIND that comes along with their extra curricular challenges. Its their COMMITMENT to a program as they see it is something bigger than themselves. Their Servant LEADERship provides a foundation for others to grow and build from. It is their work that helps us continue to see the #NCPRIDE we have in our students and student-athletes. When you see them in our community, be sure to support their #HUSTLE with a High Five or a Handshake!
Growing up, I was very fortunate to have many great experiences playing sports. Over the years, sports gave me the opportunity to develop lifelong relationships with numerous teammates. The best part of playing sports is the comradery you share with your teammates. When you share these experiences and memories with your friends, it creates a lifelong bond that will always be there.
Playing sports growing up, gave me an outlet that taught me important values like discipline and consistency. These habits helped me develop a mentality to take initiative and action in my daily routines. Most importantly, team sports taught me how to take ownership and responsibility during adversity or pressure situations. When you are competing, you really find out how far you can push yourself, mentally and physically, because you’re not going to let your teammates down.
The weight room and practices taught me how to lead by example and demand high expectations of myself and others. There is something special about grinding together towards a common goal. In my eyes, playing team sports was much bigger than winning and losing. Our teams had a culture where it was cool to work hard and everyone held each other accountable to those high expectations. I was fortunate to be surrounded by so many driven teammates that always pushed me to become the person I am today. My teammates over the years had the biggest impact on my athletics experience because of the level we pushed each other and the expectations we set.
The values you learn playing sports translates to any career or business. The work ethic and high expectations for yourself and coworkers is crucial to accomplish success. Success can be defined in many ways: wins/losses, quantitative financial data, or community and culture. I define success as a continuous phenomenon that only one can determine for his or herself. I think success is a mixture of processes, progresses, and accomplishments. The process is the day to day GRIND that we endure and must take pride in. Progress is advances and improvements from peer collaboration along the journey. Accomplishments can be attributed to reaching your goals and sharing those experiences with everyone.
My favorite memories playing sports was winning the State Championship and playing in the Regional Tournament among 15 different states in the Midwest when we were 15 and 16 years old. Our Lexington FC team won 2 out of the 5 consecutive State Championships we played in from U14-U18. Another memorable experience was winning the Heartland Conference Championship in 2012 and playing in the Division 3 NCAA tournament in Chicago. The game of soccer has been really good to me, but I have just as many memories on the football field and basketball court. Nothing compares to the energy and atmosphere of a Friday Night football game running out of the locker room with your brothers right beside you. I’ll never forget the intense focus and anticipation leading up to every game. You could hear a pen drop in the locker room up until pre specialty went out for warm ups. Then everybody starts to loosen up and soak in the moment. After warm ups it was time for the iconic Coach French pep talk that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. He would be chewing his yellow gum as he ramped up his quick speech that had everyone feeling like they could run through a wall once he finished. It’s one of those moments that you have to be there to witness because words can’t fully describe everyone’s energy during that moment. We were very blessed to be able to compete at a high level on the field, but our team had some bad luck with several injuries throughout the seasons. The basketball court was another arena that we were able to compete in. The cross town rivalry games with packed gyms were always a blast to play in. You don’t get tired in those games because the adrenaline you gain from the crowd. What I liked most about basketball, is the fast paced up and down movement and how close the fans were to the court. These are just some of the details about what I enjoyed most about playing sports growing up. Something my teammates and I will never forget is how much the team itself meant to everyone. We all know we would do anything for each other and that goes without saying.
Playing sports has been a lifestyle for me ever since I can remember. I still play indoor soccer every Monday night all year round and we play pick-up basketball every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30 before work. Athletics has helped me through my personal life with my family, friends, career and overall lifestyle. Sports have taught me to have a growth mindset and always look for ways to improve. If we aren’t growing, then we aren’t living.
I was born to be an athlete, and honestly I don’t know if the circumstances of my life would have allowed me not to be. My mother was a cheerleader in her school days, became a PE teacher and coach for part of her teaching career. My father was an athlete, also a PE teacher and was a coach for 37 years, most notably the head girls and then boys basketball coach at Nelson County High School. I grew up running around basketball courts and football fields. At different points in my life I was a gymnast, soccer player, golfer, point guard and center fielder. I took the love of physical activity and turned it into a career, as I am also a Health and PE teacher. (my brother is too, so that’s 4 for 4 in my family)
The experiences and the memories I have from playing sports, both from winning and losing, will always be ones I cherish. I think back often and miss those moments and I am thankful for the impact they had on my future after leaving my cleats behind.
However, the most important role sports have given me is that of a sports mom. My two older boys have been involved in sports since they were 3 years old. The feelings I have experienced by watching them, tops my lists of favorites and not so favorite sports moments I have personally experienced. Seeing their joy after a great play or a win, is better than anything I ever experienced as an athlete. And seeing their mistakes, loses, and upsets, is as heartbreaking as anything I have ever experienced. I am not a perfect sport parent, but I try to be a realistic, loving, and encouraging sport parent. I will be the first to congratulate them on a game well played, and the first to offer constructive criticism if needed. However, I always tell them how much I LOVE to watch them play, no matter the outcome, because it's the truth, I LOVE to see my children participate in something they LOVE.
I look forward to watching them over the next several years as they reach the pinnacle of their athletic careers. I look forward to my 9 month old son, watching his big brothers, and maybe following their footsteps down the road. And most importantly, I look forward to telling them after each game, I LOVE watching you play!!
What are we paying attention to? Is our attention being focused on important aspects of our lives, or is it stuck on the mundane and insignificant? Our TNHS Athletics Community must continue to focus our aim on parts of our programs that will not let us BE. It must be something that we can fix and are willing to fix. I believe that we should look to shift our focus on putting too much emphasis on the end product in athletics (winning). Moving our aim to the process is a fixable endeavor that will allow our athletic community to move in the direction of the betterment of the people involved. Programs, players, coaches, parents, and athletic admin have to ask themselves the question "what does success mean to me?" Often the answer will take many forms; growing as a person, being caring, helping others, being a leader, and contributing to a community. The aforementioned answers are all parts of a highly functioning community. Rarely the answer to that question will be winning a specific game. So the next time our focus is so engrossed by the outcome of a sporting event I would suggest taking a step back and think about what true success will be for my team son, daughter, and student-athlete. Often we find more happiness in the process over a successful end product.