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.

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The First Time I Said…

I’ve been emotional, and reminiscent, and very much on the fence when it comes to my looming college graduation. Several times A hundred times I’ve mentioned how these last five years have been the greatest of my entire life, and that remains true. That will never NOT be true.

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With that being said, a sentence I never expected slipped out of my brain and off the tip of my tongue yesterday. The sentiment I never truly felt until now snuck it’s way in there and I stumbled over the words, but out it came:

“I’m actually excited for graduating college.”

WHO KNEW?!? I didn’t. I half expected to be reminiscent and emotional for the rest of my life.

I’m actually looking forward to the end of academic career (for now- no one ever really rules out grad school). Why? What compelled me to believe that I’m actually ready for that whole real world thing?? Well, I’m bored. I’m annoyed with writing papers that require three different types of citations because it’s whatever the professor preferences. I’m bored of notecards, even if the content in interesting. I have my systems of note taking and studying and procrastinating, and nothing is going to change in the last six weeks of school after 17 years of education. I might actually be READY to take on the real world, not just dream about it (whether those dreams were ambitious, romanticized viewpoints or nightmares). I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m starting to feel proud of earning two undergraduate degrees. I can quite literally make a list of the papers and tests I have left! Graduation might be looming, but I’m shying away from it anymore.

I’m excited to get a big girl job. I’m excited to have hobbies (and expand on current ones- like this blog, and cooking!). I’m excited to not have to plan my year around semesters and I’m excited for everything I don’t know yet. I can physically feel my anxiety lessening as the reality sinks in that we actually made it- we’re graduating and getting on with our lives.

And I’m not going to lie, this post was inspired by a strange weekend. My Easter weekend involved a game night with friends, work, studying, and a long walk Easter Sunday to take advantage of the beautiful day. Meanwhile, my three best friends: 1. Got nominated to teach abroad, 2. Got a major scholarship offer to grad school, and 3. Got engaged. Their successes made me unbelievable happy, and proud, and gave me hope that even though these five years have been amazing there is still so much to look forward to. There is still so much to do and so much to see and so many goals to set still.

I said it last night and I’ll say it again: I’m actually looking forward to graduating. I am as ready as I’m going to be for whatever comes next, and I am allowing myself to feel excitement over that.

What was the best, scariest, most unexpected thing that happened to you post grad?

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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The Last First Day and a Win

Tomorrow is the official beginning of the end- the first day of my last semester. It’s borderline a miracle I even have class that day, being registered in only 6 semester hours means I only have to go school two days a week! Not a bad way to finish my degrees.

We successfully lived through training camp. Three weeks concluded with our first dual meet of 2015 in Illinois, where we dominated the boards finishing 1,2,3, and 5 on both 1m and 3m and winning the meet overall 165-135! The meet itself turned into somewhat of an emotional day, as the three super seniors were competing together again, knowing it was the final stretch. Everything came together for me that day- not only was I thrilled out of my mind to be reunited but I also ended up setting a pool record on the 3m board. The record had been set in 2011 by my then teammate now roommate, and USA Olympic hopeful. To have her set the record my freshman year, and then come back to claim it myself my fifth year, was one of the most surreal moments. Walking away with those results gave me a lot of confidence going in the championship season. We are ready, the training is working, and all the pieces are falling into place.

Want the meet recap? Find it here.

I needed a couple rest days after the whirlwind that was Saturday morning, taking all of Sunday to sleep in and unpack and watch 10 episodes of House. We even got this morning off before coming back this afternoon to get back to work!

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This post started as a recap of how it feels to be on my last semester, but all I can think about is the meet last week, the meet this week, and practice today. I can’t help it- I can’t dwell on the countdown looming in the back of my mind till it’s all over. I know I’ll always be a Hawkeye, and I plan to keep diving, but it’s such a different feeling competing for Iowa and being on the roster. This is my team. This is my second family. It’s such a huge part of who I am, I’ve never lived in the now like this before. I feel like I am fully dedicating myself to the present moment- to embrace and rejoice in everything this last semester brings. I’m not ready for the “alumni” title. I’m not ready for this now, this present day, to be over.

2015 Grind

I love planning. I’m a big planner, making to-do lists, brainstorming activities. Every September at the beginning of the school year (and the college season), we dig deep to find those goals that will push us to better than we were before. Every May at the beginning of the summer, we do the same, and of course January 1st is the classic time to kick off new challenges.

There are plenty of things I’m looking forward to this year- goals included. What a better (and cliched) way to kick off 2015 on the blog by looking at some of the things I intend to work towards this year?

Graduating with two degrees this May. After five years of college, I’ll be walking across the stage at Carver Hawkeye Arena with a Bachelors of Science in Recreation and Sport Management, and a Bachelors of Art in Ethics and Public Policy from the University of Iowa. I was not one of those people who knew what they wanted to do their whole lives, and I transitioned majors and classes and professors while finding out what I loved. While technically this a goal, I only have one class left for each degree so 99% of the work is done!

Top 8 at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Zone D Championships. Top 8 make the championship finals at Big Tens, and while top 18 make finals at Zones top 8 is still the goal. In my college career, I have come 9th on every event possible- my sophomore year on platform, and my junior year on 1m and 3m on back-to-back days. It sucks and it stings to be 9th. I’m ready. That’s what I’ve been working towards for two years now. There are only three months left in my collegiate athletic career (eek!!) and I want to finish to the best of my ability.

Get a real world pull up your big girl panties kinda job. While my college career might be ending soon, I’m still looking to train for the 2016 Olympic Trials. To do so means job hunting in the Iowa area for a bit- like REAL job hunting, not just a part-time summer job kind of gig. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’ve been told both of those emotions are normal.

Extra- FINISH a Tough Mudder! A close friend of mine did a few of them this year and I obsessed at how cool they sounded. While I contemplating doing one in October, I choose to hold off and take the summer of 2015 to train for it (also won’t interfere with the diving season!). While I haven’t selected a date or location yet, I’m all giddy at the thought of it. I’m also looking at the Spartan Race series or the Warrior Dash just to make sure I’m selecting a race date that’s a good location and not too far away. Who knows maybe I’ll get in more than one event even :)

Leave a link to your posts about your 2015 goals! Happy January 1st my loves I hope everyone started the year on a strong note!