People ask me all the time, what would I say are some of the biggest lessons pursuing soccer to the highest level has taught me. I always tell them, one of the best things you can do is accept the fact that life/the soccer world is not fair, don’t waste energy lamenting, it, and move forward in a positive direction as quickly as possible.
At first glance, it’s probably seen as a fairly pessimistic way to look at things, but let me explain.
Just in the last month, I have heard stories about rigged ten-year old tryouts, and players getting spots based on strategically placed parents, coach-player relationships influencing opportunities at the highest levels, and player salaries and not performance, influencing player selection at the top professional men’s level. One needs to look no farther than the leader of soccer, the President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, to see that things aren’t fair and that the people at the top of the heap aren’t always the ones that deserve to be there.
That being said, when I look back on my soccer career, there have been many disappointments and frustrations. Friends and family of mine, seeing these frustrating situations, often have questioned where the will to continue has come from.
The answer is in the form of a woman who is almost 60, with an adorable Irish accent, an absolute undying love for the Vancouver Canucks and who’s smile and positive personality attracts friends from every walk of life who want nothing more to be in her company. She also has lived for over half of her life with symptoms associated with Multiple Sclerosis. She sits in a wheelchair, having had so many things in life that healthy people take for granted, ripped from her grasp. Yet the disease hasn’t managed to take away her smile or her spirit, and when I talk to her, conversations are always positive; sometimes she speaks excitedly about managing a few steps that day, or she’ll tell me about a sad story she heard, and how we really need to be more thankful for all the good things we’ve been given.
If you’re looking for an example of how life can be unfair, and how good people don’t get always what they deserve, you need to look no farther than that special woman in the wheelchair; my Mom.
She’s taught me and soccer has reinforced for me, that the cliché is true; Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it. In the mountain of disappointments that have happened to me through my soccer days, every time I’ve been cut from a team, told I wasn’t good enough, sat on a bench, deserving or undeserving, it’s never been something that I feel has defined my future or even to some degree seemed like a big deal.
When you’ve got a Mom who is smiling at you from her wheelchair, soccer disappointments always seemed to be brought into the right perspective. My Mom’s smiling face and positive attitude to me, has always been a metaphor, to regardless of what crappy things are happening to you, you can beat anything with a smile on your face.
At the end of the day, if you live your life with integrity, doing the right thing, putting in your best effort no despite whatever cards you’ve been handed, you’ll always come out a winner.
I thank my lucky stars every day to have the example of such an inspirational person in my life to remind me of that.