Connecting a Community

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Welcome to theACLclub

Over my career as a soccer player, I have constantly been challenged with different obstacles. What athlete hasn't? You don’t become a professional without having to climb mountains in the process. The toughest part were the injuries that took years of time to get back from and, consequently, years off my career.

What I have learned throughout everything is I found something I am passionate about, helping others. After I tore my ACL for the 3rd time on my left knee, I knew there was a reason I was chosen to go through all of this. Maybe it was to show the world that it was possible to get back to the highest level after such a grueling road, but I also think it was to use my experience to help those who are now having to go through this process.

I honestly don’t think I would be the same person I am today if I never tore my ACL on that May 10th afternoon. Or April 27th. Or April 9th. Those days helped me grow. They helped me persevere. They helped me gain perspective on what is important to me.

In the years in-between, I have offered my voice and knowledge to people I know and acquaintances who need help navigating the area of “what do I do now that I tore my ACL?” That is where the wheels in my head really got turning…

How do I help more people get through this process? How do I help pass on the knowledge and insights that is only known by those who have "been there, done that" to the people who have just torn their ACL? How do I make these people feel like they are part of something bigger then themselves and supported/connected to a community who have the scars to show how hard they worked to get where they are?

Like most people who have torn their ACL, that day burns itself into your memory. You can feel what the day felt like, how you spent nearly every hour of the day, what you felt, and what was said to you by the people who surrounded you with support and love. I will never forget laying on my couch that evening, leg elevated and numbed by ice, when my teammate Tina Estrada came to visit. She was a phenomenal player, quick, smart, and scored goals like nothing I had ever seen. But she is an even better person who's young career included two ACL rehabs. She sat next to me on the couch that evening and said:

“Well kid, welcome to the club.”

Not really knowing how to react, I cried knowing I had a long road ahead of me. Little did I know that this club is one of the most supportive groups an athlete could ever be a part of.

What she expressed to me that day in those small 6 words has stuck with me because I have continued to see how this invisible fraternity of people, all affected by the same injury, relies so much on one another. Once you have paid the costly price of initiation, you will forever be changed and a part of a community who gets each other.

So the day is here…I have been working, and will continue to work and grow, on my new website:



I want it to be a space where people feel a part of a community, a special group that they didn’t decide to join, but life chose them to join. To be a place where people who already went through the process can direct people who are just starting as a jumping off point. Where "Scar Stories" are shared and people from near and far find inspiration in one another. 

Here’s where I need your help: I am trying to build a database of good surgeons and physical therapists around the country. People who have helped you get back to full recovery. There is an email link at the bottom of the website, I would love to know about who you worked with and promote them on the website.

So…check out the site. Share with anyone and everyone you know who would be of interest. Connect with us via twitter and instagram. Email any suggestions or additions you would like to see to theACLclub@gmail.com. Buy a tishirt and wear it with pride. I am proud to have the scars I do, and I hope if you are marked with them, you feel the same way too. 

Welcome to the Club - the ACL club

#welcometotheclub

#showyourscars

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Build It Up (build me up)

I might be biased but few things are as rewarding as scoring a goal (well there are many things in life much more rewarding then that... but as far as soccer goes, scoring is pretty key). So much work put into a small ball hitting a large net. When you think of the logistics of it outside the realm of the game, it seems so simple. The ball really is small compared to how large the goal is...but when put into context, it is a massive task. 

Every little piece of the build up is important, and not one piece more then the next or the one before. The sum of all the touches, passes, tackles, saves, and unselfish runs to create space allows one person to do the honors of allowing the ball and net to create one of the sweetest sounds you can hear.  

The build up to a goal is much like the work you put in to get a chance to experience that moment on the field. It isn't always perfect or go exactly like you would have imagined it to go...in fact, a lot of the time you aren't in control of what is going to happen. Someone else has the ball and they are in charge for a brief moment until they pass the reigns on to someone else. All you can do as your teammates touch the ball is support them the best you know how and believe in their ability to do great things. These little puzzle pieces fit together perfectly, just how they are suppose to. Everything happening for a reason. 

To get back on the field after a big injury you are creating your build up. Every little thing counts. The rest days. The work days. What you eat. How much you sleep. What you think and how you talk to yourself. And just like on the field, you rely on so many things not in your control to help you along the way. Doctors, physical therapists, friends, fellow members of "the ACL club", and of course family to help support you in both the highs and lows of the process. 

Build up's are a thing of beauty...I believe our journey back to the field is just that...     
beautiful

The scene unfolds: 

Surgery (......pass)
Bending your knee past 100 degrees (.......pass)
Stepping down onto your leg with full weight  (.......pass)
Getting told you get to jog again for the first time (.......dribble)
jumping up perfectly onto a box that you think is just a little out of reach (.......pass)
juggling a ball and feeling it as it pops off your foot just right (.......dribble)
Wearing a yellow "non-contact" penny in your 1st training with a new ACL (.......pass)
Running on the field, number on back of your game jersey (.......cross)
Finishing a great build up with a simple inside the foot near post tuck away (.......goal)


Yes, it is just one small part of my build up...but in our first game of the 2015 season, in a new kit on a field I didn't get to play on last year, when I looked up and saw the ball in the back of the net, it felt like a weight fell off my shoulders. I have always believed in my ability to score, even when I wasn't playing I would imagine myself scoring goals (yes goals, not one but many in all different scenarios). But after 4 years of not seeing that happen, doubt starts to creep in. Even if only for a second/minute, it's presence is felt and requires that much more energy to reassure yourself you can do it. 

In those moments of doubt you recall what it feels like to get lost in a game. To not remember how a play progressed or how you made that final minute full field sprint. To be "in the zone." It is a feeling that athletes relish and hold onto because it means you are playing with a freedom and focus that is beyond anything you can explain. These feelings are what keep you pushing to get back on the field. They make you spend the energy remembering and re-convincing yourself that you still have it in you to do everything and more then you did before. They keep your mind focused on what step is next in your beautiful build up. 

My build up was long but relentless, four years in the making. Purposeful, building strength within me that I would never change for anything. The buildup in our game was short, precise and accurate. I was just one piece of the puzzle that allowed our team to score our first goal of the 2015 season. I won't ever forget that moment. Both build ups I will cherish it forever. 





Sunday, March 29, 2015

Question...who loves preseason?

The days feel like weeks…the weeks, months. When you look on the calendar you have only been with your new teammates for 3 weeks but it seems like you have known them for years. This is a little something us athletes like to call “preseason."

As the first few week’s tick by up in Western New York, I began to think about what a cool time of year this really is. In the moment it just feels like a lot of sore muscles, lungs that don’t breathe well enough, a sprained ankle and some tired toes (and after many years away from these pains, you get to appreciate the aches and pains), but it is so much more than that. 

We all came into this well decorated red and yellow locker room as 20+ separate players…some of which you have played with before in some capacity, some you have only admired their play, to others you don’t know at all. In this clean space you are allowed to create something new out of all the equal parts.

I think this is one of the biggest reasons why I love playing a team sport. I have the upmost belief that every single player on a team is crucial. We each bring a quality that is unique to us that only we can bring to the team. If you are Tiff Weimer, you would say I only bring a lot of questions to the table… which actually is very true and a distinct quality of mine. But the truth is, I love asking questions! I love getting to know new people and finding out what makes them tick, who they are as a person, sister, friend, and player.  This helps me find out what their unique quality is, and how it fits into our puzzle.


It is also such an interesting part of year because we are all fighting for those coveted spots on a small roster. Being in those shoes year after year, I have found personally that I function better when I feel most like myself. I feel most like myself when I feel like I know the players and feel comfortable being myself in front of them.  This is the type of environment I hope to create (and I think why I ask so many questions).

Yes, we are competing and yes, at the end of the day I want to be a starting for the Flash, but that won’t turn me away from being friendly to all and helping others feel comfortable in a tough environment. I believe that this is where people succeed…in a space where you are able to push yourself to the edge of failure (and over the edge) with complete confidence and comfort knowing your teammates are by your side ready to tell you how great that was or help you so you can succeed next time.



So maybe I ask too many questions (right Tiff??), but if it means the person next to me on the field is going to feel that much more comfortable, then it is all worth it.


#flashy 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Success. Scratch that... PROGRESS





Success.

What is it? Is it making the national team? Is it coming back to play from an ACL injury? Is it being a doctor who saves lives? Is it being a mom? A servant to others? 

My answer is it is none of the above...to me, 





Success is progress. 


Striving for something and finding yourself in a better place today then you were yesterday. Realizing your dream(s) and going for it. Even when the world tells you you are crazy. Even when you try to talk yourself out of it because you know how hard it is going to be, you keep moving forward. 

I think having a dream is one of the most important keys to life and progression. Read that carefully...a DREAM. Not a goal! The more I think about goals the more I want to forget they ever exhisted (thanks in large part to "Burn Your Goals" ...amazing book that I would recommend to anyone).  

One of my dreams is to be a professional soccer player. The apex of my dream includes playing for the US Women's National team and contributing to winning a Gold Medal at the Women's World Cup and Olympic Games. I can still see the very details of this journey: the white lines on the field, the smell of freshly trimmed grass, the feeling in my stomach as I hear the high pitch whistle blowing to start the Final game, scoring the winning goal with a left foot half volley, and tears running down my cheeks on the podium as the American flag goes up to the sound of the Star-Spangled Banner. 

However, somewhere along the way my dream turned into my goal. 

Over the past few weeks of post-season, I have had the time to reflect upon what I am doing with my life. (Literally, I ask myself almost daily, Jordan, what are you doing with your life?) During some of these quiet times, I have moments where I get this sense of failure. Like I haven't accomplished what I worked so hard for so many years to do. Even typing it sounds weird to me because in no way have I failed. I am living out my dream! I am playing soccer for my "job"!! But, the moment I turned my dream into a goal, I gave my mind to the opportunity to determine if I would "succeed" or "fail". What bothers me the most about this is it is so far from reality... I have neither succeeded or failed at this dream, I have only been on a unique journey of working towards being closer to it. 

Although this is still a dream of mine, I have many other dreams... 

My dream is to stay involved with soccer as long as possible: from anazlyzing games on ESPN/Fox Sports, sharing my insight with soccer fans all over the country (tapping into my first dream as a child to be an actress), to continuing to serve the youngsters at my childhood club, Colorado Rush. 

I dream of being a business woman who helps run a company leading a group of people to create an environment that breads creativity and cohesion. 

I dream of being a mom, raising a family and loving them more then I know possible. 

And my latest dream involves sharing my knowledge and creating a community where others going through or who have gone through ACL injuries can come to find strength, help, and inspiration. Literally creating  "The ACL Club."  


Who knows if I will be able to live out all my dreams, or what new ones will evolve, but I will work daily to see progress towards them. 

In the book Burn Your Goals, the writers challenge the reader to:

Put first things first, 
Let go of outcome based thinking, and
 Believe that everything that is happening to you is for the best. 

I am taking that challenge and relieving myself of being my own worst critic. The only reason I can't do something is because I tell myself I can't. The only reason I have "failed" or "suceeded" is because I tell myself I have. I believe in my dreams and will focus on what I can do today to help me be a better PERSON tomorrow. I challenge you to do the same (and to read their book!). 

So... as I ask myself what am I doing? I know the answer is I am getting better. I am learning more about myself, God, the game, relating to different people, and taking steps towards what is next. I believe this to be God's perfect combination of everything above. 

Success isn't a place to say "Hey look at me I've made it!" and be content in your accomplishments. Success is an ever evolving space around you where you feel YOU are MOST YOU. Dreams are precious and should be something we strive for. Progress is what we should seek daily. 

Keep chasing your success. Keep chasing your dream(s). I will keep chasing mine.  

                                          And enjoy the amazing journey.