ZERO TO HERO

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No One Said It Would Be Easy

I mentioned briefly that I went from zero to hero when it came to sports. Ok, so probably not hero like an Olympian, but at least all my hard work paid off and I didn’t suck. Here’s my scrub back story:

Even though I have played competitive sports and, as a result been a fan of health and fitness for more than half my life; I am far from a natural. If I were a male, I would be cast in the role of the ninety pound weakling as I was always smaller than my classmates. Being petite for females does not have the stigma that it does for males, but it can be to your disadvantage when it comes to competitive sports.

I didn’t even start playing sports until a friend dragged me to a volleyball training camp when I was in high school because she didn’t want to go alone. (She wasn’t overly girly, but that came across as ridiculous to me like when some girls have go to the bathroom together. I grew up with a brother, so the idea of going to the bathroom at the same time to me is just odd.) Despite my misgivings based on the fact that I hated P.E., I went anyway.

When we got to the training camp at UC Berkeley, I had a nervous bladder from anxiety surrounding the fact that I would have to play a sport that I had no idea how to play. Needless to say, my bladder was accurate. I sucked. I’m not exaggerating, I was the worst one there. I often missed the ball. When I did make contact, I sometimes hit it backwards (you’re supposed to hit it forward). I fell down a lot, and even though volleyball involves hitting the floor a lot, not as much as I did and not in the clumsy manner that I did. I couldn’t even get my hand around it to throw it during warm ups.

Everyone was looking at me and I wasn’t imagining it. One time during a break when I was in the bathroom, I overheard some of the big-hair valley girl jerks talking about me.

“I can’t believe she stays,” one of them exclaimed.
“I know,” another added. “She is so sorry, I can’t even bare to look at her”.
“Yeah,” yet another chimed in, “it was kind of funny at first. But now it’s just pathetic.”

And I know I wasn’t projecting, because once they saw me; they looked panicked and averted their eyes. As if making eye contact with me would turn them to stone. Apparently, I was the medusa of volleyball and they feared that my ineptitude was contagious. Ouch.

I was dejected emotionally and physically. But I had made a commitment to a friend, so I sucked it up and I finished the camp (also I paid for it with my own money and I don’t like to waste money).

I was in so much pain after the three day ordeal that I could barely walk. My friend and I literally crawled and pulled each other up to Strawberry Canyon. Once there, we just groaned and soaked in the pool, unable to move. Swimming was totally out of the question.

After that fiasco of an experience, I made a commitment to myself never to suck that badly again. I refused to experience that kind of emotional or physical pain again. So I asked the coaches how I could improve on my own before season tryouts. I followed their advice and found that I could get an edge on my competition, by being in better shape. (Even though many of the other girls were 6-12 inches taller and had played 2 to 4 years longer). So I ran 3-5 miles every single day, rain or shine, and worked my way down to a 7 minute pace. I also did 200 sit ups and push-ups every day.

Yet, even with all this hard work, I was cut from the team when I tried out that fall. So I signed up to play off-season, and ended up a bench warmer, but I stuck with it.

The following year, I made JV as a co-captain. Then the year after that, I was a varsity starter. I then went on to play Division I in college. And I even coached a winning college team.

A few years later, I ran into one of my first coaches, who was there at the first training camp I attended, and I told her I was coaching. She was so impressed and I think a little stunned. She knew what a challenge the experience was for me. And her expression reminded me of my journey and how the decision to be a nice friend changed my life.

If you had asked me when I was 15, if I would play competitive sports, I would have thought you were high like my stoner dad and my friends’ parents. If you had asked me when I was 15, if I would dedicate myself to being fit and truly enjoy playing sports and working out, I would have thought you were crazy, like the people on Telegraph Ave.

However, if you ask me now, I would tell you, that I couldn’t imagine my life without fitness and sports at the center. I was not a natural. I didn’t get any encouragement or recognition from my friends and family.

Now I’m a weekend warrior, as we are called, and do triathlons and aquaterras (splash and dashes). In fact, if you’ve never tried a mixed endurance race, I encourage you to give one a try. Maybe you can talk a friend into going with you. Ha! They’re very fun. It’s very liberating riding and running around in your bra. Ha!

I have never regretted making the commitment and the sacrifices are secondary to the benefits. I have learned that commitment means being willing to overcome internal and external adversity. I have learned that commitment will make you feel proud and others respect you. I have learned that with a little commitment, you can achieve a lot, much more than you might think.

I think most people like super heroes because they give us hope and appeal to our desire to root for the little guy and actually see him or her win. Do you enjoy a good zero to hero tale? If so, then you’ll love reading how others like you achieved their health and fitness goals. GET THE FULL BOOK OF INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS on Amazon.