Monday, May 16, 2016

This I Believe: Thank you Kory Lamet

You want patience? life will throw you tests.
You want empathy, life will break you.
You want humility? try playing a new sport as an adult.

I recently heard someone complain about the fact that they picked up soccer too late in life. If only they had competed in the sport when they were much younger, their skill set, understanding of the game, and technique would be refined in such a way that they could be an elite athlete. 
"How old were you when you started playing?" I asked.
 "Eleven," she said.
I do not support this mindset. Though I understand that confidence is born from experience and competition is important, we should never feel as though we start something too late. I think of the many opportunities, friendships, life lessons and talents I would have missed had I not taken up a given sport by a certain age. 

I learned to row like many college freshman do my first year at Notre Dame. I rowed competitively for four years on the club team; women's crew became a varsity sport but a year after I graduated. I have a sense of what D-1 varsity athletes do because of that I experience. I know all that they give and what they gain.

I returned to playing basketball, a game I played in CYO in third through seventh grade in my late 20s. It was ugly, it was raw, I'm not sure you would ever want me on your team, but I enjoyed it. I watch the game much differently after having returned to it as an adult. My appreciation for some of the complexities of basketball and the demands it puts on athletes is much different because I had the courage to lace up my shoes for the hardwood.

And but three years ago, I didn't really play golf. Now it's a regular part of my weekend and summer activities!

Playing with a friend on Saturday I went straight for the pin, which was to the right side of the green on a slope. After I hit the ball, it faded to the right, demanding a chip shot to get on. I said "I should have hit for the middle of the green. I'm just not that good. I can't afford to be going for it." John turned and looked at me incredulous. "That's a great attitude. Most people don't talk like that,"  he said. I told him "I know where I have been and I know where I want to be. I'm a long way from that, but I also know I won't be going back." Every golfer knows the sport keeps you humble. For those of us who joined the ranks later in life, we know that truth cubed.
I first read about the "This I Believe" series from an article in Catholic San Francisco, a free publication created by the Archdiocese of San Francisco. In recent years, it has resurfaced as a popular podcast series on NPR.
This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Over 125,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, have been archived here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.
Since encountering this treasure trove, I have come to realize I believe many things, but pressing on is that it is never too late to find a passion in life. After his presidency, George W. Bush has found solace in painting. My mom has taken to Bridge with a vengeance. I'm just glad it's something she can play with old friends and new ones and with my dad! And I loved reading about fellow Carondelet alumna Kory Lamet '11, who found one on the sand volleyball court. In "A Beautiful Game," Jonathan O'Kanes writes 
Lamet, after finishing her career on Cal’s women’s soccer team, decided she wasn’t ready to put away her athletic shoes quite yet and decided to make a run at Cal’s beach volleyball team. She’s still running, helping the Bears’ No. 2 pair to a 17-5 record this season and the team to a No. 14 national ranking.
Reading Kory's story not only affirmed my belief—she hadn't even played competitive volleyball since sophomore year of high school, let alone beach volleyball—it reminded me that we all bring our unique self to what we do. 
Her natural athletic ability and mental make-up made up for any shortcomings related to the lack of playing time, Her partner teammate added “She kind of started with a clean slate. She didn’t have any bad habits or anything like that,”  
Lamet said, “It was humbling and frustrating, and it’s still that way,I still come out here and it’s kind of the same. I had indoor experience, but my body and mind just weren’t on the same page. On top of that, skills from indoor aren’t nearly the same as sand. It was frustrating, but it’s gotten better.”
In spite of her lack of playing experience, Kory was voted captain by her new teammates, I'm not sure she needed the humility that is born by playing a sport as an adult athlete; sounds to me like she has it. 
Lamet knew she was joining a team full of student-athletes with much more experience on sand. Once she was added to the roster, she asked her new teammates to trust her. 
I can't believe how badly I want to play this hole. #17 at TPC Sawgrass 
Watching all five hours of The Players Championship on Sunday, I found myself imagining a few times about improving so much that I could play on the LPGA tour. I did. As completely, utterly and laughably ridiculous as that is, it was fun to recognize that crazy dream even popped into my head. And perhaps that's why I hold such a conviction that it's never too late to find a new passion. They will makes demands of us, test us, teach us about ourselves, stretch us and make us patient, empathetic and humble. Sounds a lot like a great way of becoming human...more human.

Photo Credits
Hole #17
This I Believe

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