Sunday, January 29, 2012

I DO Know What You're Going Through

I just finished a great conversation with a student, who in college, had a record breaking emotional blowup. The day after being named a Junior College Tennis All American, he decided not to be focused in his next match. He had already qualified for State Championships and would be moving on to the next stage of tournaments, so in his mind, didn't need to mentally show up for this match.

As this particular match moved forward, it was obvious he wasn't focused on his routines and mental goals. Instead, he was paying more attention to his opponent on the other side of the net, who throughout the year, was a major rival. They didn't like each other much. As a matter of fact, this opponent would purposely cheat when matches got close. This day was no different, except for how my student would handle and react to the cheating.

Approximately 45 minutes into the match, the cheating began. Not caring so much about the outcome of the match, my guy started threatening the cheater, promising he wouldn't get away with it this time. The two jawed back and forth, so much so, that a referee was placed on the court. Unfortunately, this ref had no idea what was about to transpire. This match wasn't going to end in a hand shake and the customary  "nice match" at the net.

Again, my student came into this match totally unfocused and concentrated on next week's State Tournament, so he was playing awful. Topped with the normal cheating from his opponent, the perfect storm was brewing. Before any coaches or players on other courts could see what happened, my man hit a perfect volley that was again called out, but this time wasn't going to take it. He instantly jumped the net with his racquet in hand, ready to crack the cheater with it. His doubles partner somehow jumped the net and tackled him before any blood could be shed. In a split second, coaches and players from the two teams were running to the court.

My student was subdued, but not before being ejected from the match, and kicked off the premises. Before leaving, he proceeded to break four racquets and his plastic water bottle, shattering them into pieces, saving one racquet for later. And when I say, "leaving," I don't mean calmly walking away... no, no... this wasn't his style at 19 years old. He took that one remaining racquet and sprinted far away from the tennis courts. He ran across the street, through a field, over a fence, across another street, finding himself at the base of a huge tree at a deserted park.

As he knelt beside the tree, barely being able to breathe from the mile sprint he just took, he noticed he was still clutching his last tennis racquet in his right hand. He looked at the racquet, then back at the tree, then again at the racquet. "Bye bye racquet," he promised. What seemed like 15 minutes, he smashed that graphite enemy into the thick bark until there was only a leather grip left, dangling from his fingers.

Finally, he could rest.

I have a conversation with this student in the mirror every morning and night. I look at his reflection and congratulate him for making an amazing transformation. Before he sits down to a mental session and teaches anyone anything, he must first look at himself, be honest, and admit he will always be the student.

Yes ... I DO know what you're going through!

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