Sports Can Teach Us to Overcome Hardships

by Positive Coaching Alliance

Thousands of youth sports teams, programs, schools and millions of young athletes are currently sidelines. Many may feel lost, perhaps even depressed, without their team, competition and entertainment.

Former major league hurler, Dave Dravecky felt those very same feelings when the game through him a traumatic and dramatic curveball. Not only was he sidelined, but many believed he was down and out entirely. Nevertheless, he came back and then, when even worse circumstances hit him, he came back again in a different way.

As a San Francisco Giant, Dave was one of the top pitchers in the major leagues. But in the fall of 1988, he learned that he had cancer, leading to the removal of half of the deltoid muscle in his pitching arm. Defying all odds — nearly a year later after battling cancer in his pitching arm — he returned to pitch again. Earning is club a 4-3 victory.

Five days later, while pitching in Montreal, his arm literally split in two. Consumed with doubt and fear, he learned that the cancer had returned prompting him to retire. With weakened bones, he developed a staph infection that ultimately led to his amputation of his left arm and shoulder blade. 

"I've come to realize that real growth happens in the valleys of life,” Dravecky says. “Those times when life seems lowest and at a stand-still — those are the times when true character develops.”

The disappointment and frustration our youth athletes are experiencing during this current COVID-19 situation may not be at the same levels Dave experienced, but we can learn and apply how he dealt with things mentally:

Wrestle with it — allow yourself to be frustrated...but come to grips with what IS actually happening, do not pretend it is not impacting you and your world.

Evaluate — look around and figure out what the COVID-19 culture is doing to your personal world…understand what it is and what it is not. Truly evaluate what new opportunities it is affording you that you would not have if life were "normal".

Find hope — discover things you can do to productively pass the time and do them …encourage others to do the same. This diversion of attention will not only lessen the anxiety but will also help you be better when it passes.

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