The Dawgs are wrapping up spring practice tonight at Bulldawg Stadium. Game time for the junior varsity is 5:00pm and the varsity begins at 6:30pm. The players have had a good spring training camp but there is still a lot of work to be done before the fall opener with A&M Consolidated. 

One of the things that happens to a team, as they form together, is they experience some adversity. A player being counted on might get hurt. Someone might get sick and cannot play. The talent of the team might not be adequate to give the opponent quality competition. Regardless of the circumstances, all teams sooner or later face adversity. I believe adversity builds the fiber of a team and program. 

One of the important ingredients in building a team is to have positive players and coaches. It is important everyone stays focused and does not allow negativity to creep in. In the building process mistakes and bumps in the road will happen. It is at those times when players must not listen to negativity. 

When adversity strikes, critics usually surface. This is when naysayers judge teams and players. They do not understand about talent, work habits, and all the variables of what goes into the equation of a ball game but they love to criticize. 

Hearing a critic or naysayer is bound to happen sooner or later in our lives. It’s something everyone encounters when people critique us in whatever we choose to do. Lending an ear to the naysayer, otherwise known as a skeptic, critic, or person full of negativity, manages somehow to suck out all the new fresh hope and energy from our dreams. Why listen to such a person? 

Players need to understand when they encounter a naysayer, these people do not give an “objective” view because they are influenced by their own personal history, knowledge, culture and values. Most of the critics have never participated in the sport. Players and coaches must know these negative people are not them. Therefore, the player and coach should take all their viewpoints and opinions with a grain of salt. 

How does an Eagle handle adversity? The way an eagle reacts to adversity does not cause the bird more stress. During a storm the Eagle fly’s right into the eye the storm. Within a short period of time they ascend above the storm. 

Eagles are sometimes bothered by other birds. When this happens they fly to a height where the other birds cannot breathe. The example of the eagle for an athlete is to soar above the sounds of critics and keep pursuing goals. 

If you are an athlete this concept can be used when facing your opponent or chasing a goal. Winners keep flying higher and farther. They become stronger with every minute while their opponent gets weaker. 

It is how an athlete responds to adversity that makes all the difference. While most people just react to situations, a focused athlete has purpose. Preparation is key to performance and a focused athlete practices for perfection. If they are defeated then they regroup and try again. If they win, they still focus on ways to improve and get ready for the next competition. The naysayer just eats more potato chips in both situations. So, competitors should care less about being judged by someone not in the arena.

Players and coaches (and true blue fans) need to be like the Eagle who spreads its wings and flies higher and higher. If a person is pestering you, just fly above them. Get above the storm. Soar to new heights. Life can be challenging but weathering the storm makes the sunshine so much more enjoyable when it appears.

Thought for the week, “The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.” Joshua Waitzkin

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