Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to win without a scoreboard

In my opinion, people are too concerned about winning or succeeding to realize what had actually happened during their quest. This post is not about the journey to winning or succeeding and how you must enjoy the journey. No, no, no. This post is about how you can win even though the scoreboard has told you that your opponent had bested you.

The only time the scoreboard showed we were beating Newport :)

As an athlete, I understand that the object of sports is to win. Winning makes you look good. Winning makes people think of you. Winning makes you feel good. But what winning does not reflect your mistakes. Losing lets you remember what you and your teammates had done wrong. Some will see that as a downer, but I see that as a spot to improve on. Honestly, improvement is undervalued in this society, unless improvements lead to championships galore. On a skillfully disadvantaged team where only I, myself, have played more than 2 years of water polo, improvement is what drives us. Before each game, our coach tells us that she doesn't care what the scoreboard says, she just wants us to play our best and improve from the game before. And for the most part, we do. Some games we regress, but that is okay. The only way we can go is up from here, and we try our best to do so.

So how do you win a game without a score? It's with what you take away from the game. Whether you scored a great goal or had an amazing pass, you can take that and add it to your experience. The only way you can improve is by practicing and gaining experience. The scoreboard from tonight was not pretty, but you would never have guessed that we had gotten about ten kick-outs on the other team. (That is a good thing, just in case you do not follow water polo). That is an amazing feat considering they are all experienced players who know better than to make silly mistakes like they did. The most important thing that I take away from each game is the feel of support that I get from my team. Most of the time we lose our games, but I can count on my team to continue to be the awesome people they are. If you cannot walk out of a game loving everyone on your team, then you might as well have lost. In my heart, every game is a win even if the scoreboard does not show it.

This is what I saw on my pier tonight. I invite you to reflect on your pier about your wins.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Outskirts of success, target of love

Some days you feel like Frankenstein's monster. Unwanted. Unloved. Unfitting. On those days, you need someone to help you stand up and shake off the world's grime.

For me, I have a special group of girls that lift my spirits even when I am indeed sinking in woes. I have my water polo team, or what I would like to call, my family. It's a typical white girl athlete thing to say, but these girls are actually family to me. Let me expand and show you all the love that I am surrounded by.


My team is not as skilled as most of the other teams in Division I water polo. Southern California is where Olympic water polo players are bred. Like no joke, I have played against girls who are currently on the national team. (I made one of them look like a fool with a garbage goal that I managed to score ☺️). So basically, we are in a very competitive area. It makes it difficult to rebuild a team and keep spirits up when you are constantly losing. But the worst is when other teams are laughing at how horrible you are. Or when the announcer(not naming names) is literally  hashtagging out loud your opponents awesomeness and broadcasting that you and your team are practically laughing stocks. Honestly, those are the breaking moments, especially for me. 

What on earth could make me even continue playing when things like this happen? Well, my team is the only reason I still play. This years group of girls is the best team I have ever played with. We aren't very good and I have played with better teams, but this team is my all-time favorite. And I love them with all of my heart. 

We are the Frankenstein's monsters of Division I water polo. We lie on the outskirts of success, but right on the target for a perfect team. A perfect team does not have a perfect record; they have companionate love for one another and are all striving to improve in ways that they had never even thought possible. At a sports conference, I heard a quote that really struck home with me (a former UCLA softball player presented it to us). She said, "It's easy to play on a winning team, but to be a true athlete is to play on a losing team and accept that you played your absolute hardest and lost." My team is experienced in losing, but you will never see us able to walk properly after a game. We play our hardest the entire game through, and I am sure of it. We are a team of athletes according to this quote. Not many other teams are, nor are they as close as us.

Our team bond is probably the weirdest thing out there. Very rarely do we quarrel. We stick up for each other when needed and we support each other with love, compassion, and dedication. And we are the weirdest people around! I am proud to call these girls my teammates and my sisters. No matter what, I can count on them to help me in anyway that I need. I hope that for all of them, they see me as their crazy big sister. I hope I am giving them everything that they need to improve and thrive in this world. Because they are providing me with so much more than they know. They give me an outlet. They give me a safe place. They give me love. They give me the hiccups because they make me laugh hysterically. I love these girls and would do anything for them. 


I don't think very many athletes can say that about their teams. Within most teams, there is competition to be the best and I think that increases tensions and decreases closeness. On some teams, people are much too concerned with their own play that they forget that in order to be better, the rest of their team has to improve as well. And it is an easier task to improve a team when everyone is helping each other. Some people see their teams as temporary and don't desire to even become a part of their team, which I do not get. If you're gonna be a part of something, you must give it your all. Competition between teams might make teams too focused on the game and forget that they need to be a team, not just a group of athletes with a common goal. This is my opinion on other teams being not as great and close as mine and my opinion might not be valid and that's ok.

So my team is my family. I actually just led a team meeting where we discussed what our family means to us and how we can improve. I think it was a successful meeting, if I do say so myself. I believe our chat brought us even closer than we were before. 


My coach tells us before each game that what the scoreboard says doesn't matter, and that she only wants us to improve and implement what we have been working on. That's the only mind set we can have when we play nationally ranked teams each week. The only way I can come out of these games and feel good is by looking at my team and at how far they have come. Each one of them have improved immensely from the beginning of season and I couldn't be prouder. They can frustrate the hell out of me in a game, but I know they are doing their best and learning from their mistakes as I learn from mine own. I rarely see them look discouraged before, during, or after a game. They are all so positive and life affirming that they could make the sun shine in the dead of night. I can't believe how lucky I am to have a team that I can consider my family. I wish I was a better, more eloquent writer so that I could properly glorify them. They make me so happy and I am going to miss them so much next year.

My teammates are the wooden planks of my pier. They allow me to be who I am, and even better sometimes. They will always be with me as I sit on my pier. Who is with you when you sit on yours?


Monday, January 13, 2014

Keeping me up

I hate going to bed past 9:30. It is unnatural to me. But some nights, sleeping is a hard task to do before 1 AM. Kind of like tonight, or should I say this morning.

Victor Frankenstein was kept up for his quest to animate his monster. I am kept up by my thoughts. If only they were as productive as Victor's findings. But they must be significant if they are keeping me up.

I have to be up in 5 hours to go to morning practice. Tonight I will have fewer than five hours of sleep. I usually run on 9 hours or more of sleep a night which is a rare phenomenon for high school students. It's starting to become a dream that I wish to obtain. 

Maybe too much is changing. I'm deciding on where I am going to college next year and I constantly think about that. Also, I only have a few more weeks of water polo left and I'm thinking more and more about that. Finals are coming up in a week and let's be honest, I'm probably not ready for them. There is also a boy on my mind, but let me not bore you with that notion. Yet there must be something more that's affecting more than I realize...

But I cannot speak of it even if there was something else going on in my life that is causing me to stay up into the wee hours of the night. I am not allowed to, or rather I do not trust anyone enough to tell them. It's hard living with something you cannot share with those that you share most of your time with. 

Sometimes I just want to break down and leave my life for the beach or drive all the way to Hayward to see my sister. But I can't. I have to live my life on fewer hours of sleep and keep a strong face. People look up to me to lead them through the roughest of waters, literally. I'm probably making this sound worse than it is, but when you are awake at 12 in the morning you tend to be a little more dramatic than you need to be. 

I'm okay. I'm dealing. I'm just tired and want to sleep for a couple of weeks. That's not gonna happen though. I hope that with each passing day, things will get better. But recently, they do not seem to be doing so. Some days are better than others, there's no doubt. Then there are days when the gates of Hell are opened and a parade of demons are lighting up your mind at night provoking thoughts upon thoughts. Some of these thoughts scare you and make you sit up in bed. I just want to sleep without worries. It's a lot to ask, but I'm hoping I'm worthy of such a favor. 

If you're reading this, don't worry about me. All I am losing at this moment is sleep and I am grateful that is all. I could be losing so much more. This is what I saw on my pier on this morning, what will you see on yours?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

How a monster is unleashed

Victor Frankenstein was excited when he figured out how to animate a creature. But right after his monster was created, he was terrified and felt that what he did was a huge mistake.

Animation was what released the beast from his worst fears. But how did he figure out how to animate his creature? What turned a lifeless gump of body into a moving monster? No one knows how everything can drastically change in a moment.

There are many things I don't understand and will never understand. My ponderment for the day is how a person can turn into a monster in a matter of moments. When a person makes that change, their actions are irrational and hurtful. All we want is peace and all they want is war. Only time can calm the beast.

There are people who snap when the littlest things go wrong. To most people, they are considered dramatic and irrational. To the very few, they are understood to be troubled. When little things go wrong and you react in a way that makes you a monster, there might be something wrong with your way of thinking. In psychology, we learned that depressed people have a smaller scope on life and that even the smallest things can have the most detrimental affects on their days. This is not only a matter for depressed people, but also for those who are stressed or in an off mood. I remember I had a meltdown once because I had forgotten my Chapstick. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it happened. That morning I had an upsetting discussion with my coach which made me angry and I couldn't just slam lockers. I held in my frustration for a couple of minutes and then when I had realized I had forgotten my Chapstick, I broke. I slid down my locker in tears. But I needed that emotional release in order to feel better. But is that why others become a beast over insignificant ordeals?

I cannot answer this question. For me, crying is a better release than yelling, yet I continue to do both anyways. Sometimes I transform into this monster that you would not dare touch with a million foot pole in fear of creating a ferocious beast that will devour your soul with all of your hopes and dreams. It's a little dramatic, but I'm almost certain that everyone has those moments. 

So how do those moments happen? I've probably asked this question ten thousand times already, but I really don't know the answer. Monster moments can be terrible. The only way to stop them would be to first understand them. It is so difficult to understand someone who is in a monster state because they don't want to talk, they want to unleash their inner frustrations. 

Maybe the only way to help reduce the severity of monster moments is through preventative action. Just talking to a friend about frustrations could help or even seeking professional help if needed. Getting a person to talk is much easier than getting an upset monster to talk. If you know a monster, talk to them and ask them how they are. Crack a joke or watch a funny movie with them to lighten the mood. With studying this in English classes over the years, I know that the mood carries the scene. 

Monsters are mysterious and at times harmful. Let's tame the beasts inside us to prevent is from hurting the ones we love. A moment can change us, let's hope for the best. This is what I saw from my pier today, what will you see from yours?