Monday, August 31, 2009

What Next?

I am a competitive person. As far back as I can remember, I have always been competitive. I remember a time when I was playing U12 soccer and I was miserable. I felt like the coach was always picking on me. It always seemed like when we would get to play a scrimmage game, he would always play, too, and he would put himself on the other team, and then he would man-mark me. I was getting kicked and banged up by the coach, and I wanted to quit.

My parents wouldn't let me quit, but they listened to my concerns and talked to the coach. Turns out he thought I had potential but "needed toughening up." I thought I was tough enough, and I decided to show him in our next practice. When it came time to scrimmage, sure enough, he lined up across from me. When the ball came, I missed the ball (later I would find that this was called a "professional foul" and kicked him in the ankle. He went down, and he never played against me again. Several years later he was refereeing one of my games and he pulled down his sock to show me that he still had a scar from where I'd kicked him. I guess I was tough enough!

As we went on and as my skills got better, I would routinely play against better players, and I loved it. I loved running drills in practice, and I would work as hard as I could. Track practice was the same; when I was supposed to run a 400m interval in 75 seconds, I would run it in 70. Sometimes my teammates didn't like to practice against me because I had one speed: all out.

I really liked having a coach push me to work harder.

But after playing high school soccer, and after playing club soccer in college, the days of having a coach were over. I still play as hard as I can, but I don't have someone else pushing me. At least I get to play. I wonder about someone who has played football at a high level - where do they go next? At least a runner can run local races. A basketball player can play Y-ball. A soccer player can play in an open league or an age-group league (when I was a teenager, I swore I'd never play in one of those old man leagues like an over 30 team). But what about a football player?

I wonder, what's next?

Like I said, I am competitive. I have been running races a lot more over the past several years. One of my life-long goals was running a marathon, and once I did that, I wondered what my next challenge would be. It was running a second marathon (the way I saw it, anyone could run one, but it took more to run a second one). But then I wondered what would be my next challenge.

I began running more 5K races - for a couple of reasons. One was that I like seeing some of the same people at every race and making new friends. But, of course, I love the competition! For a while, I focused most on my finish in my age group, but lately it's been about my time. I set a goal this summer of beating 20 minutes (42 seconds better than my then-PR), and I accomplished that goal with a time of 19:35. What next?

One of the things I see a lot with some people is that once they accomplish a particular goal, they live off that accomplishment. For example, if the goal was to run a marathon, then they do it, then for the next 5 years they eat like they just ran it! "yeah, man, I ran a marathon. Now pass the pork rinds!"

Or in life in general: maybe they did something high level, but now they say, "I did that once, so now I just sit around." To that person, I say, "What next?"


Anonymous said...

OK, just picking up on your U12 experience...
I AM a U12 coach in a rec league. To me, my job is to help these kids be whole people, good people, learn to work together as a team and learn the skills of the game. Soccer is a competitive game. The objective is to win, obviously. However, winning doesn't take precedence over being decent people. I, also, seem to be in the minority. I don't know if this is just me, if it's a male-female thing (all but one of the other coaches/asst. coaches are male) or what. What I find interesting about your post is that your parents backed you up, approached the coach with your concerns and came back with an answer...and apparently you stayed on the team and had a good season? This is the way adults and civilized people should act and how they should teach their children to act. You had very good parents it seams. I hope that the parents of my team would feel comfortable enough to approach me with any concerns.

Kari (I don't have google, etc. so it seems I have to post this as "anonymous"--sorry)

Rudy said...

I guess this is a super challenge to me. Not in futbol, but in other areas. Once I finished grad school and got a job doing what I love... what next? Get married? Did that... what next? I know that eventually I want to continue my education but until the "what next of paying of school debt" is first in sequential order. Where do I go next in my faith? How do I serve the people I am ministering to in a "what next" mentality? Guess this has been on my mind for awhile...

John said...

My current fitness goals are to run six miles at 7 MPH and do 100 pushups in a single set. I'm confident that I'll make the running goal, but I'm stalling on pushups.

Creating achievable goals constantly is one way to stay in shape as we become old geezers.

I'm a naturally ambitious person, but I'm trying to reform. I have a couple peer-reviewed articles in the mix, but mostly I want to work less and enjoy life more. Now that I have a child, climbing mountains doesn't seem quite as important. Well, not as important as cold, hard cash.