For as long as I can remember, I have loved sports.  I had wished I could participate in them. My favorites at a very young age were bike riding, hiking, ice skating, roller skating, baseball, volleyball, swimming, tennis, and running. When I was young, I was able to run and I could run fast. I loved that feeling of moving through the air and across fields and running free. It was exhilarating.

As I got older, I started to become limited in what my body would allow me to do. And, when I became an adult, aside from hiking, bike riding, and swimming, sports became a spectator activity for me. One day, in the next year, I will get back to being an active participant but until then, I will watch all the sports I love so much and I will continue to learn from them and be inspired by the participants.

I have learned many lessons from participating in and watching sports over the years. One of the biggest lessons I learned was when I had finished high school and moved to California. I took my bike out for a ride. Growing up in New Orleans, I hadn’t realized that it was MUCH harder to ride in San Diego. There were so many hills to go up and down. By the time I had gotten back from that first ride, I wasn’t sure I wanted to ever ride a bike again. But, the love of the wind in my hair and the feeling of accomplishment got me back on that bike. My first year in college, I played volleyball. I think it was a volleyball class that I took that really taught me trust and teamwork. My team was counting on me to trust them and I made a big mistake and lost the game. That is a lesson that has stayed with me to this day. Right about that same time, I began to really play tennis. I would go out most Saturday mornings with whomever I could get to go with me.  I remember, at the end of each game, feeling my knees hurting so bad. I remember seeing the movie Space Jam years later and I could really relate to how Bill Murray felt when he said he needed to go and ice his knees. But, I have to tell you, nothing, not even the pain, could take away from that feeling of accomplishment and that feeling of being set free with each accomplished movement I made. It was freeing.

Now I love watching professional sports. I love the enthusiasm, the teamwork, and seeing the final product after years of working hard, practicing to become the best, sacrificing, training the body, and perfecting the sport. I see these players on the football teams, the basketball teams, the baseball teams, and all the sports teams as inspiring. Not only inspiring to me but inspiring to so many young people who are striving to do their best, achieve their dreams and build their lives. There is one person, in particular who I have felt inspired by. I heard his story as I was going through a time of becoming a better me. His name is Arjen Robben and he plays for Bayern Munich, International soccer. Soccer is one of my favorite sports and I loved watching the World Cup. It is then that I heard Robben’s story. Despite many injuries throughout his career, he has managed to rise to the top and is considered one of the best footballers in the world. He achieved his dream of continuing to play the game he loved so much by working through each and every injury. And, each time coming back even stronger. Even in pain, he does not quit…..and, that is a huge lesson to all of us. Do what Robben has done through his whole career. Do not quit. Look at your difficulties and problems as opportunities and blessings to learn and improve yourself. Never quit! Go after what you want to enjoy in life and make it happen!

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