Post-Grad Living

 

While mad cleaning the apartment tonight (thanks to a 5pm cup of coffee and destroying the kitchen in an attempt to make chili), I found an old journal from my sophomore and junior years of college.I’ve kept some form of a journal since I was ten, and while I haven’t written much since Vietnam I always enjoy going back and reading through my old thoughts and emotional roller coasters. That’s the thing with writing a journal (that’s different than writing on a public platform)- you only really write about the highs and the lows. There is no in between. I spent a good 45 minutes tonight reading through the moments that, at the time, were the world’s biggest heartbreak or the best I’ve ever felt.

It’s funny how you think nothing changes day in and day out, but when I look back at four years ago I’m shocked by some of the things that passed through my mind and onto paper. “Nothing was ever accomplished through negative self talk” I wrote in March of 2012 (I probably definitely didn’t come up with that). I felt like every missed dive was a failure, and the only way to succeed was to repeatedly run into the same brick wall over and over.

Despite reading some things that made me feel sorry for what I let myself believe, I was able to read the transformation. I was able to read through learning all of those “big girl” dives, every motivating thing my coach told me when I couldn’t see the positives. It’s been an incredibly reminder, and somehow exactly what I needed to see. This weekend, I’m competing exhibition at a college meet. And I’m SO nervous. Like more competition anxiety than I’ve had in years. I’m not even sure of what I am afraid of, but reading through how I got through it before has been a lifesaver.

I have been diving since I was 15 years old, and I have fallen in and out of love with this sport before. There have been countless moments over the past several years that, at the time, I’m convinced would be the definition of me. Results that, in my mind, outlined a career, determined my worth, and dictated how I felt about the sport. I must be one of the only people in history to come ninth on EVERY single event at the Big Ten Championships. They took 22 people to the 2012 Olympic Team Trials when I came 23rd at Nationals. And yeah, I broke my foot 10 days before my final Big Tens, when I was in the best diving shape of my life. I have missed more dives than I care to admit, and yet I choose to keep diving after college when most people take the opportunity to pursue new endeavors. But I am stubborn, and I am not done. I may not have had a “real” competition since January, but doesn’t mean I am out. When I missed Trials in 2012, I committed with my coach to train for the 2016 Trials. I have no illusions of cracking the top eight divers nationally, as I’m just trying stay healthy and improve, not make another 5 years of corrections in a few months. It’s about finishing what I started.

It’s hard to train after college- I feel old. I get sore more often, random pain in my shoulders and wrists that weren’t there when I was 19. While I still train with the team, I don’t compete alongside them (this exhibition event an exception). I’m focused on my job, grad school applications, and paying bills on time. Diving is not my whole world anymore, and that took some adjustments. I trained twice a day for seven years of my life, and now I only train in the afternoons. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, which turned into me thinking I was delusional for wanting to keep training. I didn’t feel like I was enough, like I wasn’t “good enough” to keep training, that I didn’t have the “right”. I didn’t feel any sense of urgency, any passion. Things took a turn when I acknowledged that I was in a horrible place, and I started talking about it. Instead of taking a leadership role as a college senior, I turned to the college team to remind me what I loved about the sport. I turned to my best friends and told them of my perceived inadequacies. I turned to my coach and said “I don’t know what I’m doing”, and like he has always done, he brought me back to life. I turned to what I have done in the past, and looked for what I always loved about this sport.

In February of 2013, before my junior year Big Tens, I wrote “No matter what happens over the next week, you’ll be fine. You will still love this sport and this sport will love you back”.

Today, nearly three years later, I am giving myself a gentle reminder. I do not need to be nailing every single dive to love this sport. I do not need to be the “best” or “peaked” to love this sport. There is no score or quantifiable measure of success that gives me the “right” to keep training as a post-grad. I don’t need to justify training once a day, or make up excuses. I don’t have to score a personal best every time to recognize that I am still living the dream. I have acquired more joy from being a Hawkeye then I ever did being the “best” on a given day. I can’t think of a single dual meet that I remember my rank or score, but I remember tearing up my senior year thinking about how much I would miss it. I remember the opportunities I’ve had through this sport, and the friends I’ve made from other teams. I remember cheering till I gave myself a headache. I remember crying when we all took our last dives as collegiate athletes. That’s what falling in love with this sport again means to me. It’s time to remind myself that flipping through the air is a blast, that even on days I don’t love my body I’m thankful it does the ridiculous things I ask it to, and that the relationships formed on the pool deck will last a life time.

This fall, I forgot what it felt like to love the daily grind. And with six months left in a nine year career, I don’t intend to lose my favorite part of being an athlete. There is no requirement for being “good enough” to train as a post grad. I am enough. I do enough. And even if giving it my all is less than why it’s been in years past, does not make this year any less successful than previous years. I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone else. This year isn’t about making a final, or learning new tricks, but about persevering towards a goal a made years ago. The only one I owe this year is myself. Seems appropriate that it’s during the holiday season I find myself seeking joy without justification.

Senior Nationals Recap!

So about two three weeks ago I had the opportunity to finish out my season in Victoria, BC, at the Canadian Summer Senior National Championships! I was competing in both the 1m and 3m springboard events, having retired from Platform diving with the end of my collegiate career, but not ready to be done with the sport completely.

This meet was a new experience for me. My training cycle in the weeks leading up the meet, quite honestly, sucked. We weren’t having Saturday practices, I was working a lot (i.e. missing practice times) and we had quite a few cancelled practices for a variety of reasons! After Spring Break I had my final set of x-rays and while I had permission to jump and run, and wasn’t even diving with any more tape on my foot, I felt out of shape, and sluggish, and slow. I didn’t feel like I could jump high or spin fast or be prepared for a Senior National meet. I was borderline panicking- in a constant state of anxiety about this impending competition. Frankly, I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

And while we’re being honest here: I wasn’t wrong. I was NOT prepared for a Senior National meet, and things finally came to head about a week before I left. I sat down with my coach and we talked it through- every cold hard fact and every bit of pressure I had been beating myself up about. We ended up clarifying three goals to focus on in order to end my season on a positive note:

  1. Celebrate the fact that I am healthy- that I am no longer injured, that I can dive on two feet, and that I’m not in pain anymore.
  2. Celebrate my family being there, and the city of Victoria. Victoria is so pretty, and my mother and sister being able to come out for the weekend was so great for Mother’s Day.
  3. Enjoy the atmosphere. Take it all in. Say hi to your friends and enjoy the facility and have FUN during the competition.

My final practices in Iowa were MUCH more enjoyable and I jumped on over to Victoria (where I was 13 HOURS late- rants about my horrible flight karma in the works). After the disastrous travel day however, two days of competitions came and went and I ended up having a great time. Nerves got to me a little during the 3m event and I ended 18th, missing my marks a little more than I had hoped. Despite being somewhat “off” during the event I actually ENJOYED the competitive experience, which is always a bonus! The 1m event the next day was just as fun, where I finished 14th with only one miss compared to the day before.

This meet itself was a testament not to my preparedness or my ability as an athlete, but showed a shift in my outcome expectations. I’m a competitive person- I always want to do well regardless of the circumstances! What I’ve learned over the past year though, is sometimes the circumstances win. Sometimes all you can do is make the best of it, and I surprised even myself getting through the whole week with a smile on my face.

Now my summer plans include taking some much needed time off, getting into work and my internship, and getting to build up my fitness levels again! I can’t wait to be lifting weights and going for runs and finally getting to be SORE!

Do It for the I-Ring

Sunday during the day we had our Annual Swimming and Diving Awards Banquet, and Monday evening I had the opportunity to attend the Iowa Athletic and Academic Awards Banquet, along with the Senior I-Ring Presentation. These two events involved dresses and heels, plenty of photos, and the recognition of the many achievements Iowa student-athletes have accumulated. I was asked to stand a few times along with many others, for making the All-Big Ten Team for Academics and for qualifying for the NCAA Regional Championships. The Seniors got recognized with a procession to be seated, and then individually Monday evening to receive our I-Rings and induction into the National Varsity Club.

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Sunday, at the annual team awards, my coach stood at the front of the room and talked about how the team has grown, how this was the first time he had seniors graduating in the three years he’s been at Iowa, and told the story of my broken foot. I didn’t know he had planned to say anything about it. He admitted to many behind the scenes conversations that I wasn’t aware of, where the coaches and staff didn’t know if competing was going to be possible, and shared what struck him from my Big Ten meet; telling him I needed to finish what I started and finish with the girls I started with. He shared with the group that was the kind of individuals we had on this team- those who compete for the team knowing winning was out of the question.

My coach, in the past, has said that we need to be striving to leave the program better than we found it. We even had a specific conversation at the beginning on the season about what being a senior on this team would mean- mentoring the underclassmen through the difficulties of being an NCAA D1 athlete. Not just surviving, but thriving. I know my fellow seniors and I took that to heart, aiming to be the positive role models we thought the team needed. I thought by performing well and competing with heart I was demonstrating what our coach wanted us to do, but what I missed was the bigger picture. Our coach didn’t need us to be athlete role models, but role models for the ideals and values he taught us every day in the pool. He wanted us to demonstrate the life lessons he had taught us over the years. What I didn’t realize was that he was just as proud if not more so, of the example I set when injured, than when I was not. I didn’t know anyone was paying attention when I spent hours doing therapy and icing. I do know that I could not have made it through that time without the life lessons we had been taught through the past three years:

You need to fall in love with the daily grind. 

If you don’t love what you’re doing, every second of it, it’s not worth doing. You have to fall in love with every miserable minute. Every practice you feel like crap. Every day you’re stressed and tired and hate everyone. You need to fall in love with the bad days because if anything is guaranteed it’s you WILL have bad days. Embrace them.

Good is the enemy of great.

Do not settle. Do not give in to satisfactory, do not be “okay” with decent. Strive for more. Strive for better. Hold yourself accountable to be great. Belief that you CAN be great. Good is good but good is JUST good- don’t ever be satisfied with only good when there is the potential for greatness.

Do not despair. Do not give in.

Never, ever, ever, give up. Never give in. Like the daily grind, train through the bad days. Train through the negative self-talk. Don’t let the bad day win. Don’t let the bad day mask the bigger picture or alter your perspective on the ultimate goal.

Have the heart of a champion.

Having the heart of the champion is more than training and competing for the win. It’s about competing for the team, and training with a purpose. It’s about keeping a positive attitude above all, and rising up when we smack or fall (or break bones). Having the heart of a champion is never giving in to adversity, and fighting for your greatest potential.

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I didn’t think about my I-Ring much over the past five years. The significance of it just didn’t register with me while going through the practices and the travel and the competitions. And for someone who didn’t give it much thought, I can’t describe the feeling of pride in my chest when I slipped it on.

“Once a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye,” has never meant so much to me. No matter where I go in life, I will always be a Hawkeye, an Iowa alum, and a member of the Iowa National Varsity Club.

Friday Favorites/Five/Fifteen/Whatever

I’M WRITING TWO DAYS IN ROW!! *insert all sorts of champagne emojis here*

I’ve never been the biggest fan of posting on Friday’s due to the VOLUME of blog posts that go live at the end of the week, typically discussing favorite things or top five of something (I want to see a blogger do 50 of something) (actually that’s a great idea maybe I’ll be that blogger). BUT I’m in a great mood and felt like sitting down to write so here I am, discussing my favorite five things from the past forty eight hours (did I include enough alliterations to justify a Friday post?)

Um hi I’m obsessed with this song. “Fight Song” from Rachel Platten popped up on my social media feed early Thursday morning, and just because the world works in strange ways I saw or heard it EVERYWHERE for the rest of the day! Not that I’m complaining, I’m mildly addicted. Judging by the number of times I heard it in one day means I’m not the only one though too, right? Dare you NOT to belt it out once you’ve learned the words.

I’ve discovered the Holy Grail of protein powders- PEScience Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. Using a BLEND of whey and casein protein, PEScience proteins offer the best formula for muscle repair and recovery. Also, the new Peanut Butter Cup flavor is. Ah. Mazing. I scooped up the trial 7-serving tub and IMMEDIATELY made a protein mug cake. Needless to say, I’m never buying another protein powder if this one (with 23g of protein and 3g of sugar per scoop) can taste like a freaking cupcake.

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Where are we? Oh yeah #3…I GOT A JOB INTERVIEW! Like a real girl office job! I know I mentioned here that I had scored three(!!) jobs, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t still looking. One of them is just an internship and the other is just retail, so I’m still keeping an eye out! Even tonight I sent off two more resumes for companies I’d love to be a part of…have I mentioned I’m excited to graduate and join the real world?

Okay okay it’s a country song but come on, with the weather warming up and summer plans falling in to place you can’t NOT love a little country! Last summer I was pretty obsessed with “Keep Them Kisses Comin'” by Craig Campbell, and Michael Ray’s “Kiss You In The Morning” is an easy 2015 replacement.

And my small victory of the week? Back squatting and dead lifting my body weight or more for the first time since my injury. Even if that’s only 65% of my max- two months ago I could hardly walk and three weeks ago I was squatting with a single 25lb dumbbell. It’s amazing to me the way my body has remembered how to be an athlete; I’m embracing the soreness and loving the early morning alarm (okay, at least it’s light out and not 30 below freezing anymore). I’m even adding in baby jumps and low impact cardio, no running or serious plyos for another week or two. I don’t even care about the running or the fact I’m not setting any personal records in the weight room right now- I am just so happy and thankful to be lifting at all. I am no where close to where I was before February 6th, but I KNOW I am going to get there and I am recognizing that it is going to happen sooner than I think.

A Flashback Friday for everyone…five days post break on the right and 24 hours post break on the left.

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Here’s hoping everyone has a great weekend! If you need me I’ll be sleeping in, making waffles, and enjoying a (mostly) low-key weekend at home :)

Once A Hawkeye…

Well this is it, the “was” post. I “was” a college athlete. I “used to” compete in the NCAA.

We all knew it was coming, I wasn’t under any false pretenses that by some miracle they would let me stay another year or three. As of March 11, 2015, the journey that started when I took my recruiting trip in November of 2009 officially closed.

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I was assuming this would be a sad post, an emotional one. One that I would cry writing and cry publishing and cry rereading (in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve done a lot of crying this week). But sitting here now 24 hours removed from my “student-athlete” status I don’t feel like my heart is broken. I was prepared for this day and I’m allowed to be emotional, even if it stings more than I thought.

After five years of training and four weeks after breaking my foot, I competed in all three events at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. I didn’t have to change any of my dives to easier options which was a huge accomplishment for me, and while I was no where near my original goal of qualifying for the NCAA National Championships I’m counting the week as a huge success- we had three Hawkeyes qualify for Nationals and I got to finish my collegiate career with the greatest people I have ever met.

There’s a lot I could focus on in regards to the last five years, and I am choosing to focus on what matters. The positives and the goals achieved and every struggle that brought a life lesson- not the marks I missed due to injury or other reasons.

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From the Senior Recognition at the Big Ten Championships. I was probably trying not to cry then too.

This experience simply would not have been possible without the support of my incredible family, and the trust they put in me to move to another country at 19. It would not have been possible without the coach that brought me to Iowa and the belief he had in me to succeed, and the coach that followed him, who believed in me the same. I would not be the same athlete without them, or anywhere close. And more than I could have possibly imagined, I could not have done this without our athletic trainer. After my injury he was the most optimistic person I could turn to while being realistic about my diving (and walking around) capabilities. He dedicated multiple hours everyday since to make sure I could be on the board for my final college meets, and I can never summarize what that meant to me. He never doubted my determination to finish the season, and was right there every time I was ready to push myself. I can never be thankful enough for the people I have surrounded myself with over the past five seasons.

What made my career, more than the goals and the training and the results, were my team. I have been luckier than I ever dreamed to be able to train with them. From everyone on the team in 2010 to everyone on the team now, having doubled in size, I have felt so fortune to have known each and every one. Now training with 13 people, only three girls have been together for the entirety of my career. I got to witness one achieve the ultimate, qualifying for the NCAA’s, and see one rip her last dive of a 14 year career (Oh shoot I made it this far without crying while writing) (to be fair she was crying during the dive, I’m allowed to cry thinking about it). From every triumph to every failure in and out of the pool- from high school boyfriends to grad schools and training camps and apartments, they have been the biggest blessing I have ever received. While we have been struggling to figure out who we are going to now that we are not student-athletes, we have the been the rocks in each others lives. They have been my biggest cheerleaders when I was injured and I was their biggest fans when I was sidelined. We all cried when we succeeded, and we all cried together when two of us finished our Hawkeye careers (seriously, it was comical. The men’s team knew to give us a few moments each day to cry it out before joining the team meeting).

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Day two of competition- minimal tear day

I have absolutely no idea what my life is going to look like in a year, but I know who is going to be there for me. I don’t know exactly what job I’m going to have and what my life will look like, even though I generally know I’ll be working and training (this isn’t a retirement post thank goodness!). This will be the first time I’m not registering for class, and I don’t have to worry anymore about blowing my amateur status. I’m looking at things like health insurance and work visa paperwork and graduation transcripts and gahhhh. Real life sneaks up on you when you’re trying to enjoy every last second of your college career.

Oh gosh, well this turned into a rant. To summarize, I am excited, and scared, and heart broken and proud and so so thankful this is how I choose to continue to my diving career. I will bleed Black and Gold for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter where I am in a year, or ten years, I will always be a Hawkeye.

From the first big meet,

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to the last.

The extent to which I could point my broken foot with that much tape was a bonus in itself!

I promise less emotional train wreck posts in the future while I navigate the ever-looming college graduation, spring break in Denver, and where ever this road may take me! Go Hawks!

Three Things, Third Month

My apologizes on giving you guys the update on Big Tens and leaving you hanging for over a week! Following coming home we hosted the Men’s Championship meet, so I was at the pool cheering 6 hours a day doing physical therapy every chance I could get. Contrast baths, towel workouts, resistance stuff…my foot felt totally recovered about five days after competing on it! Well in relative terms- it went back to how it felt pre-competing on it.

The good greatest news? There was no damage done diving on it, and it’s healing like it should! I got follow up x-rays last week and the bone is healing, slowly but surely. I’m still in the boot, yuck, but at this point it’s more to help heal the ankle sprain and to help it recover now that I’m going to try diving again.

Side Note: I didn’t even know I sprained my ankle until I saw the doctor again last week, but it makes perfect sense. I basically sprained my ankle so hard the bone broke. The bummer is that ankle will always be a little stretched out and a little weaker, but with adequate rehab and preventative measures it shouldn’t be a big deal from here on out!

So I suppose the first things to update you on this month is I DOVE ON IT YESTERDAY! I’m still in an outrageous tape job, doing therapy before and after, and am only allowed to train once a day, but practice went SO WELL! I actually got through all of my one meter dives, which took me two days and a lot of tears two weeks ago.

My jump is probably at 60-70% of my regular jump, and our athletic trainer did call me out for favoring it towards the end of practice. All-in-all however, optimism paid off and I was very pleasantly surprised  with how my first day back went. Oh! And another bright spot! I didn’t wake up this morning feeling like I couldn’t walk or was too sore to function- I feel normal and that’s really the goal at this point.

Okay that was a long first thing. ANYWAYS

2. I was invited into the Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador Program! Obviously health and fitness has been a driving force in my life, but I’ve been more involved in sport than fitness itself. I couldn’t be happier to represent a community that encourages women to live a healthy, sport-filled life. It creates networking opportunities for support, cutting-edge content to make sure you’re receiving the best information, and is uniting people who LOVE to be active!

3. You’ve heard me complain talk about my job search anxieties, mention plans after graduation, and mull over what in the world I’m going to do with my life. Well at this point I’m thrilled to announce I’ve accepted one two three different job offers! One’s a part time position that I’ll be working at on and off, more so in April when the seasons over, one is a position managing one of the diving camps I worked out so I spend the majority of my spare time on that, and one is ten-week summer internship with a baseball tournament operations and scouting agency! The official resume titles will be Nike “Athlete”, Camp Director, and Tournament Operations Intern.

Clearly the year isn’t going as planned, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of amazing things to come.

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