The Consummate Professional

As much as I try to convince myself that my glory days of athletics are behind me and that I need to suck it up and accept my life as a meager pedestrian, I always get a swift jolt of inspiration when exposed to the lives of professional athletes.

I just finished watching this years presentation of HBO’s Hardknocks Miami. It features the rookies and veterans on the Miami Dolphins during their preseason training camp. Maybe it’s the pursuit of athletic excellence, the team-first camaraderie, or the way-out-of-your-league wives that rekindle my dreams to athletic excellence. I’ve gone through a few stages of my life feeling that my athletic talents and abilities have been underutilized. And that my determination, positivity, and coach-ability were traits that could take me as far as my will would allow.

I’ve always indulged in a broad group of sporting activities. I still proclaim to be saving golf for when I retire and no longer have the stores of energy to burn. I enjoyed life as a 3-sport varsity athlete in high school, but never had the focus or drive enough to excel at one sport. And remained well-rounded, intent on my education and future college academics.

Pursuing the engineering route in college, I continued to keep my sports and athletic training to the intramural level, but always had that urge and admiration of the D-1 athletes walking around campus with their team sweatshirts, and boisterous exchange of hollers to teammates across the quad. Again I knew that if given the time and the resources, I could perform and excel in any sport. I took the plunge going into my sophomore year by attending a summer training camp for the soccer team. Instantly, I was back in my element: two-a-days, lounging with teammates, and undivided focus on a single task. Much to the chagrin of the coaching staff, I even beat most of the freshmen recruits in the signature 2-mile run. An awkward collapse of my hamstring during a practice exercise left me sidelined with just a few days remaining in camp. Though my spirits still remained high, it made for an easy excuse for the coach to dismiss my attempt to tryout for the squad.

Next phase was my semi-professional  snowboard racing career. This I felt I did right. I had a coach, a team, training space, and even equipment that could be called state-of-the-art. Again, the 80-percenter in me wasn’t committed enough to train full time, and wasn’t funded well enough to splurge on the latest-and-greatest in carbon technology each year. Thus amidst the ranks of professionals and olympic riders, I stood at the back of the pack with very little opportunity to progress alongside the others. I do claim myself as having acheived the ranks of professional having won one of those big checks in a race in Australia.  No lie. I was the 2nd best giant slalom snowboard racer in all of Austrailia in 2008. Look it up!

Now I am in the triathlete phase of my existence. Again my 80-percent effort and investment kicks in. I keep telling myself I don’t need a carbon fiber bike that i will only race on three times a year.  I don’t need an aero helmet, I don’t need tri-specific bike shoes or pedals. The list goes on. Again, I still have that inkling that if I wanted to go all in, I could be very successful. It just comes down to that commitment, and sacrifice that separates the pros from the joes.

I wonder if it is this desire that keeps my motor running, keeps me inspired and motivates me on a daily basis. And if i did become a pro overnite, would it take all the fun out of it and turn it into a job? Am I the only one who battles my own dreams!?!


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