Connecting a Community

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Power is in your Reaction

Life is full of unexpected moments. Moments that change your life forever.

I never planned on tearing my ACL. No one does. No one says they want to go through some of the toughest days of their re-learn how to walk, run, and play the sport they love so much but has also got them in the spot in the first place. These are moment's unplanned but looked back on with great appreciation for how they shape your life.

If life teaches you anything, it is that very few things are in our control. Like everyone in this world, somedays it's easier to understand this then others. One of my favorite quotes is

"You cannot control everything that happens to you. You can only control the way you respond to what happens. In your response is your power." 

Whether it be the news from a doctor or from my coach, I have learned so much through the way I respond.

Before season, I had promised myself to take each day as it came and to listen to myself and my body about if I would be able to continue competing in the NWSL. For the most part, I felt great...besides the normal soreness from double days and an occasional irritation in my knee, I didn't feel like I was destroying my body.

Progress is something we all long for in our daily lives...whether we are progressing at work on a project, in a relationship, or on the field, it drives us to continue putting full effort into everything we do. After a good start to the 2015 season, I felt the slow decline in confidence and progression with my on the field role starting to happen. The atmosphere created there was something I didn't enjoy being a part of and it made it hard to find my joy within the game I loved so much. It didn't surprise me that I was hit with a bad ankle injury in the midst of my lowest time in Buffalo.

The oxymoron here is within the injury, I found the joy in the progress again. I could work hard at rehabbing my ankle and doing everything I could to get back on the field. Control what I could control, my response was powerful and I found meaning in my status within the team again. When I got back on the field, I got straight into additional individual sessions working on things I needed to work on in my game. Finding my joy again allowed me to pass that on to my teammates.

There is when I found myself in the middle of a pickle... I could do the math, I knew we didn't have enough spots on the team to accommodate me when I was taken off the 45 day injured reserve and returned to full fitness. This fact made me think a lot about the future. I knew someone would have to be waived and understood that it was between me and a group of mind went back and forth many times trying to grasp the concept of what was about to happen.

When I got the text Sunday morning, July 5th before the US team won their 3rd World Cup, that I had a meeting with my GM and head coach the next morning an hour before training...I knew what it was about. I had prepped myself for what was to come and was at peace with it. Although a lot could of been said in that meeting Monday morning, I felt like through my reaction I proved why I was so important to my team. I thought of my teammates first. Who would be there to assist them in making that final run when they thought they felt they were completely exhausted, or who would drive them on that important errand?  I voiced my opinion that it was better for me to get waived then a girl just starting her career. I could handle it...I have been prepped with many challenges in my career that have taught me the biggest lesson...I will be alright! To have to sit and watch them go through it so young and eager to start their career, that was difficult for me to swallow. I was content in the fact that it was me on the chopping block. It was not due to lack of performance or talent, but strictly due to the business side of the league and the addition of international players post-world cup. A fact frustrating within itself, but hey, I can't control that right?!

Did I cry? Well if you know me at all you know the answer to that question. But the tears weren't for the fact that they didn't want me on the team anymore...It was because I would have to leave a group of teammates and friends where I felt like I was making a difference. Not only on the field (where my teammates continuously told me I was playing well, encouraging me in my performances) but off the field, helping the youngest players transition into the wild world of being a professional soccer player. Was I playing every minute of every game? No. In fact I was barely playing. But the way I felt about my role on the team was something beyond what I can explain.

The past two months after being waived, I have grown a lot and had the opportunity to do things that wouldn't of been possible! It's a journey, and I don't know where I will be in the next month, but I will embrace the opportunities that come my way with a good attitude. We can't control so many things that happen to us, but we can control how we react. I choose to respond with positivity and find the power of what is coming next in the way I embrace the change.

Be blessed. 

Ephesians 4:2

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 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



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 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...     

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.