In the Dugout - Talk about a big year!
By Stacey Nuveman
Here we are in 2004, at the beginning of a very big year. Of course January always signals the start of a New Year, often including New Year's Resolutions, promises of great things ahead, and reminiscing on years past. In the life of Stacey Nuveman, however, this is a more significant New Year than usual.
On December 31st, 2003, I was married to Mr. Mark Deniz. On January 2004-10-1, I was officially named to the 2004 USA Olympic Softball Team.
So 2004 has gotten off to an amazing start for me, needless to say! I have much to be thankful for, and am truly overwhelmed with my blessings. I have an amazing new husband and 17 awesome teammates_what more could I ask for!
Very often I am asked questions like, "How do you do it_getting married and training for the Olympics all at the same time? When are you going to go on a honeymoon? Where will you live? How will you balance it all?" Truthfully, I am not entirely sure how it will all be managed. I know that it will be a challenge, leaving my husband right after we are married to leave for our U.S. Tour. I know it will be sad and difficult to leave on the trips that will take us all over the U.S. and internationally. So how do we do it?
The key is finding the silver lining in the dark clouds. I believe that all athletes at this level understand that concept: always seeing the glass as half full. Adversity is one thing that elite athletes understand. There are many times that the ball isn't rolling your way, your coach is on your case constantly, the umpires aren't giving you a single break, every muscle in your body is hurting but you still have to perform, you are zero-for-March and you can't get out of your "funk"_etc. The list goes on and on.
But at this point, the true champions separate themselves from the rest of the pack. True, all of these things stink. So what. What can you do about it? What can you control?
It comes down to "controlling the controllables". This is a term I was introduced to by Dr. Ken Ravizza, a world-renowned sport psychologist that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years, with both the National Team and at UCLA. Ken talks about the idea of taking control over the things that can be controlled, and letting the rest go. As an athlete, I cannot control my coach, the umpire, the weather, my teammates, or a host of other elements. But I can control my attitude, effort, and how I react to certain things.
Bringing this concept back to my life: I cannot change the fact that I will be away from my husband for most of these next seven months. That is one of the major sacrifices we make to play for the USA. But I can choose how I react and the attitude I have towards the situation.
Thus, I choose to be positive, and look at the bright side. I will be more focused, less distracted, and more productive. My husband will be a better employee in his job, for the same reasons. I will appreciate the time we have together more, because it will be limited. I will have no regrets at the Olympics, because I will know I have made sacrifices to be the best I can be. The list goes on and on, but the important thing is that I keep a positive state of mind rather than focusing on the sad, or bad, issues at hand.
And at the end of the day, as I imagine myself standing on the Gold Medal Podium in Athens, Greece on August 24, 2004_I will (and do) know that all of the sacrifices were worth it!