I get knocked down...literally (Post #1)

We all are told that everything happens for a reason, and most of the time we believe it, even if we never really KNOW what those reasons may be. I've started writing this blog, designing this website, and planning out what I want to say for the past 14 years. Wow, 14 years, and I give up on the Sunday crossword after 10 minutes. Even after 14 years of attempting to determine how I might put thoughts and emotions on paper, it still doesn't feel like I'm ready, but what the heck, I'm jumping in feet first (or at least foot first).

First and foremost, I have never and will never blame the sport of football for my experience but, the day, THAT day, that changed my life forever did begin on a dusty practice field in southern Ohio. As a kid, Fall weekends meant football, football, football!! Whether it was watching Dad move up and down the sidelines as a high school coach on a humid Friday night, or getting up extra early on a crisp Saturday morning and sit with bated breath to see which mascot head Lee Corso danced around in during College Gameday. Football was important to me as an athlete, and football is STILL important to me, but for many different reasons.

I'll skip through the part that focuses on me as an awkward ten year old who is trying to learn the ins and outs of the game during those riveting years of pee wee football. The most important thing was to determine whether or not we were going to get ice cream after practice, or trying to figure out how to get a drink of water out of the handmade PVC watering fountain. I really began to understand just how important football was to me when I started my freshman year of high school. Up until this point I was still learning the game, and I had a great teacher in my father, who had coached football for many years. The first thing that my dad taught me in regards to football wasn't how to tackle with my head up, or how to read a defense, but rather was the importance of athletic motivation. I did not truly know what motivation was back then, I did what I did each day because either mom told me to, or it was just part of a routine. In my adolescent mind, I believed I would always WANT to wake up each morning, I would always WANT to play football and I would always WANT to live each day to the fullest. Little did I know, that is not always the case, and finding intrinsic motivation is really, really difficult. As I look back, especially on those days that are tough to get out of bed, I realize just how important it was to truly understand the power of motivation.

My battle with motivation began during a hot and muggy day in August. Two-a-day practices started, and even though that meant the beginning of hell week, I secretly loved it!! The site of the goal posts and freshly painted sidelines was invigorating, the smell of the locker room was nauseating, but that just meant football season was in full swing and that was my favorite time of year. It was the first day of full contact, and I LOVED full contact! I understood and still understand that football is a violent game, but it is also as beautiful as watching a famous classical ballet. We snapped up our helmets and took the field, the sound of the cleats on concrete as we exited the locker room was like a chant of preparation. Since it was the first day of full contract, after we warmed up and stretched, we jumped right into a drill that would allow us to "set our pads". Being a sophomore who was lucky enough to get significant playing time as a freshman, I was out to prove myself as a contributing member of this team. When my group was up, I was sweating, I was nervous, I was pumped up and I could not stop smiling...I absolutely loved playing football. After my group finished our first go around, I was full of adrenaline and I wanted to go again! A teammate in the second group had an equipment malfunction and when coach asked for a replacement, I jumped in before he could finish asking. I get into my stance, my hands are shaking, I'm grinding my mouthpiece in anticipation, coach blows the whistle and my life changes forever....

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