Monday, July 18, 2016

Dreams do come true...even in "failure"

(Second week of camp...#yakayard photo cred: Sarah Sall)

Whether in success or failure, I hope to be the same man. I set a goal and it had an end point, an outcome - make the Olympic team and represent your country in the sport you love. It was not achieved. 

Did I fail? I didn't achieve a goal, so yes, unfortunately I did "fail," in the simple sense of the question. But it's not that simple...life is not simple. 

There's no way I will walk away from this experience thinking "what if." Based on the things I could control, I left it all out there. "What if I didn't get injured?" Well, that's a hypothetical that could not be a reality, so there's no reason in asking the question. The fact of the matter is I did get injured, I pushed my rehab as hard as possible to be ready for camp, I did that. And then camp was the hardest training of our respective lives and I completed more than 80% of it, between months 4 and 5 after surgery. 

What I'll remember most are the two or three times I nearly quit, but didn't. Every single day since the surgery my knee has caused some amount of pain. In the beginning it just seemed natural. Five months later it became one of the hardest mental challenges of my life. I live in a second floor apartment so every morning I'd struggle in pain to walk down the stairs at 6:30am, wondering if I'll be able to make it through the day. It takes a toll, and I absolutely started to question what I was doing. I knew I had to be positive, I worked really hard at it; for my friend, teammate Brett Thompson, who was going through the same issues as me, as well as for the rest of my teammates at the training center. I had it in my mind that the positivity I could reflect on to them would help in some small way, thus helping me too (ideally). They had to know I was enjoying what I was doing all the time, even if I actually wasn't. I was enjoying the challenges, and wasn't even competing, so why shouldn't they be enjoying it even more?? That was what I wanted to be perceived, but inside I was getting beaten up badly. 

The warm-up in the morning, the stretching and the extra work in between trainings, on top of an already exhausting schedule, continued to keep me wondering, "is it worth it?" Fortunately, I can easily say that it was. The goal was to make the Olympics, but in the end, the goal was more about not giving up. I was given an opportunity to come back to the US 7s team after last summer's national championship and I obviously took it. 

Why though? I left my international career battered, and that was a pretty good excuse to quit playing, which I did. But I was actually playing some really good rugby at the time and was only 27, so I'd tend to ask the question, "did I have more to give?" I learned the answer to that question through this journey and am so thankful for that. Thankful to learn about myself as a man. Thankful to have so many people far and wide supporting me through the process. Thankful that I can walk away forever knowing that I didn't quit, I didn't give in to the naysayers, I represented my family, friends and teammates as best as possible. I'm thankful the coaches gave me this opportunity. I'm most thankful my work and colleagues supported me and allowed me to come down to San Diego for 9 months. This journey has changed my life as a man, and for that the pursuit of the goal, becomes the goal, and was most definitely achieved. 
(These relationships will last a lifetime)

Failure, what failure?? Failure to do nothing is the only failure. Can't wait to watch my brothers go for a medal in Rio! And as for me, I look forward to the next adventure, back in the office and otherwise. 

6 comments:

  1. Good stuff, Kev. Proud to know you. Plenty of less serious rugby to be had when you get back to the PNW.

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  2. Woukd that all athletes - pro, amateur, schoolboy - accept such a major disappointment with the class and grace that Kevin does here. Truly an inspiration. Kevin, it would be another inspiration if you decided to play for the U.S. in Israel at the 2017 Maccabiah Games...crossing my fingers, toes - as many appendages as possible - that you'll at least consider it. Good on ya mate, either way!

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  3. You're an inspiration to many, especially me. Thanks for showing us we have a second chance.

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  5. There is truly nothing more humbling than to see a noble man, gracious in his defeat. I'm so proud to call you my friend. You're a man who is not "gold plated" but truly gold to the core.

    With love and admiration

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  6. I love this opinion and come away from your story, Kevin... "Would that all athletes - pro, amateur, schoolboy - accept such a major disappointment with the class and grace that Kevin does here. Truly an inspiration." You've walked into a calling from the outcome of your personal experience... you have a message for the athletes of the world, no matter the age or sport. Your future burns bigger and brighter as a result. Playing and mastering the accomplishment of a physical feat in sport is wonderful, but you've successfully mastered the heart and soul of it. So proud of you!

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