NFL Sunday’s in the Fall.

NFL Sundays are great, especially in the foggy/misty Fall.

Waking up on cloudy Sunday knowing football is on is truly of the best feelings in the world. And if you are an owner of NFL Network Red Zone that is 7 hours of commercial free football. I start my NFL Sundays with nice balanced breakfast(which is usually leftovers from dinner the night before). Then I’ll turn on a pregame show and read a couple articles or watch highlights of Saturday’s college football games.

10 o’clock hits and it kick off for the morning games. I’ll flip through the various 10am games that are broadcasted on CBS, FOX, and NBC. Following the completion of the morning games I’ll make my way to kitchen to find lunch. Lunch is either a sandwich of now that the Fall is upon us SOOOOOUUUUP! I’m a massive soup guy, chicken noodle, matzo ball, Italian wedding are some of favorites.

A generic view of a football before an NCAA game
Photo from USA TODAY Sports

Once I find a suitable meal I’ll head back to the couch to watch the afternoon games. Around this time is when I’ll make a deal with myself; the deal is I’ll start my homework during halftime of whatever game(s) I’m watching and I’ll finish it before dinner and Sunday Night Football. This deal fails 11 out of 10 times.

As the afternoon games wrap up I’ll set the table and eat dinner with my family. Following the end to dinner I’ll find myself back on the couch watching kickoff for that night’s SNF game. Once the games reality kicks in, with the sun being down and everyone in the house prepping for bedtime I once again realize that I’m in the same shorts and hoodie from the morning and still have a couple hours of homework to complete.

NFL Sunday’s in the Fall are amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Pushing through

About a year and a half ago I got a brand new mountain bike. I was like a little kid, getting all excited to ride around with it. The town my school is in is like a mountain bike paradise. There are many amazing trails for every level of skill. I started with some easy trails and each week I would go a little harder and harder. I could feel my muscles and stamina building up more and more. When the pandemic started, I was out on my bike every single day. It was my way of getting my energy out. I just hated sitting at my computer all day doing school work and I needed some way to release my built-up stress. Mountain-biking really helped me with that, and I had a blast every time I was on the trail.

During summer I left my bike in America while I went back to Germany. I came back to the U.S end of January and hadn’t biked at all since I left the U.S. I got my bike but being at boarding school made it hard for me to go biking. in mid-April, our outdoor-ed teacher announced several new overnight camping trips that were going out throughout April and May, one of those being a mountain bike trip. I was excited but on the other hand hesitant. I wasn’t on this list yet but I was able to sign up for it. I was hesitant because I was just so out of shape and hadn’t been biking in almost a whole year. I decided not to sign up because my anxiety just took a hold of me. I was really sad and still contemplating if I should just go. The day before the trip the outdoor-ed teacher came up to me and asked if I wanted to join on the trip as I had my bike in my room.

I decided to just get over my fear and said yes. I was nervous that I would be the one slowing them down the whole time and that I would always be the last. The next day we left campus and made our way to the campground. It was absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we took our bikes and biked down to a waterhole. It was all downhill and it was absolutely amazing, I felt happy and just free. We swam for a while, ate dinner, and then it was time to return to the campground. I had biked that exact trail before and knew that the way back was an absolute pain because it was all uphill. There was one van driving back to the campground, but three of us had to bike back. I decided I would just push through it and bike the way back. 

The last time I had biked that road up I had to stop about 6 times to take a break because I was so exhausted. We started biking up the road and I felt good. We kept going and going uphill and I was very surprised that I wasn’t exhausted at all. I just kept pushing and pushing and then we made it to the top and I had a wave of happiness come over me. I was so happy because I improved so much from the last time I biked up that hill. It was an awesome trip and I am excited to keep mountain biking.

picture by author

In Person, Finally

School is back in session and I couldn’t be more excited.

Online school was an interesting experience, but I would not do it again. It was hard and it did not have the same feeling as in-person learning.

Although it has been two days of in person learning, I have enjoyed it much more than online. I have been able to connect with my friends and teachers, which is much easier to do in person.

Sports are also starting up, which is also another way to connect with new people and make long lasting memories. There are many more opportunities to do outdoor activities, and eventually go into town.

Photo Credit: OVS

Another upside to doing in person school is that I am able to visit home. Since people are coming on campus, we are able to leave on the weekends and during holidays.

Overall, I am glad the Ojai Valley School opened for school.

Mind Games

Throughout my athletic career, I’ve struggled with comparing myself to others. Not only has it affected my performance in sports, but it has affected many other aspects of my life. From not raising my hand in class to ask for help because I’m scared people will think I’m dumb or make fun of me, to quitting a swim team because I thought my teammates judged me and thought of me differently because I was the slowest on the team. But in reality, there were at least ten other of my classmates who were just as confused as I was, and the good people on that swim team liked me because I tried and was kind, and the people who treated me differently because I was the slowest weren’t worth my time anyway.

But still, my fear of being judged has had me in chains for years and I still fight it every day.

Yes, I have been viewed differently by people when my athletic abilities were less than theirs, but I’ve come to the realization that the true athletes are ones who accept and help others succeed.

Dear anyone who needs to hear it: We all start somewhere. We all have our insecurities. Not everyone has the same strengths as others. Comparing yourself to others will only bring you down. The most important thing is to focus on your journey.

Whether you run a 15 minute mile or a 5 minute mile. Whether you can bench 40 pounds or 400 pounds. Whether you swim a 1:40 for a hundred or a :40 for a hundred. The point is you are trying, and that’s what matters.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro athlete and I am not saying I am in any way, but I have recognized one of the main things that holds me back, and I don’t think I am the only one.

Please know that where ever you are in your athletic journey, don’t look at what others have accomplished, look at the improvement you’ve made because that’s what matters.

I don’t care how talented an athlete may be. If they judge or make someone feel bad because of their abilities, all of my previous respect would be gone. Sportsmanship is building one another up, not tearing each other down. A team is a supportive group of people, not enemies. Athletics is a field meant to empower, inspire, and be available to all people, not just the pros.

If you share this same anxiety as I do, please know that it is your journey that matters and the people worthwhile will support you no matter your skill and ability.

“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter”- Doctor Seuss

Photo via huffpost.com

Black Mamba

While I was enjoying the beautiful weather of Ojai this morning, I got a text from my friends that made my heart drop, “Kobe Bryant was found dead with his daughter after the helicopter crash.” When I got this text, I thought it was some kind of joke or rumor that some people were spreading, and after checking all types of social media, I realized that it was true. I just couldn’t admit that my all-time favorite basketball player would leave us like this. There have been a few tragic events like this, but Kobe’s death just hit different to me. Kobe Bryant was the first player that I knew from basketball, and while me and my friends were playing basketball, I remember shouting “Kobe!” when I took the shot. He was a great mentor for a lot of people including me in and out of the court. Kobe Bryant might be gone in real life, but he will always have a special place in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

PC: Basketball network

Rekindled

I ran 17 laps over the course of two hours, I was winded, but hardly exhausted. These were the days I lived for. I was in first grade when I first participated in the Terry Fox run, an annual international charity track event meant to raise funds for cancer research in honor of Canadian hero, Terry Fox. This event is where I believe my relationship with sports or athletics in general really began, racing my friends across the long stretches of the track until we collapsed on the grassy ditch to catch our breath, just to do it again countless times.
 
For the next three years, my passion for sports grew even further. At school I participated in badminton, dodgeball, fitness, swimming, everything they had to offer. I was by no means a stellar student-athlete; outside of school my childhood consisted of next to no physical activity, having busy parents, no siblings, and neighbors I was unfamiliar with, my outdoor activities consisted solely of digging holes in the backyard. All of that aside, I still loved physical activity, making sure to fill my recess with as much tag and soccer as I possibly could.
 
In fourth grade, however, I found that my affinity to athletics had shifted towards food instead, and as I slowly gained an appreciation for eating, I slowly lost interest and ability to participate in sports. I began an exponential weight gain that lasted, thankfully, only five years, but took a tremendous toll on my body. At my peak in seventh grade, I would strain myself climbing the stairs, I’d wear shirts two sizes too big to conceal everything I could, and I was eating a family-sized bag of chips every day. So to sum things up, things weren’t looking too hot for me. In those five years, my relationship with athletics had become estranged and I intentionally belittled sports as primitive to somehow justify to myself my current condition. However, being the aspiring hypocrite that I was, I still tried desperately to get onto every sports team offered at my school, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, whatever team sport that would have me, but unsurprisingly, every time, I was nowhere to be seen on the lists.
 
Even after I got my weight problem under control and ended up going too far in the other direction I found the same issues with sports. I had no strength, no energy, no agility to participate in any activity apart from golf, but I was awful at golf so that was out of the question for me anyway. In the last four years, I’m proud to say I’ve finally gotten my weight under control, I no longer count every calorie that enters my body out of fear of losing control again. I know what went wrong and how to avoid those same mistakes.
 
Basketball is where I’ve been able to express this change the most. My freshman year I had 12 minutes of playing time the entire season. I can’t blame my coach for any of that, I was 6’4 inches of skin and bone, I didn’t have the strength to shoot a basketball from the free-throw line, and I could jump maybe a foot off the ground. The past few years, I’ve grown taller and stronger and I’ve trained relentlessly. I’m by no means the MVP I had hoped I would be. But now being one of the main contributors to my basketball team after my tenuous past with sports, I can finally look back and feel proud about my athletic ability, something that once meant so much to me, for the first time in nearly 10 years.

wanna fight

“Wanna fight” is the phrase I often use recently.

When some people make fun of me, I will say that. When I make fun of some other people, I will say that. When I don’t know what to say, I will still say that.

I don’t even know where I got this phrase from, how it got into my mind, or why I keep saying it.

PC: media.makeameme.org

After lunch today, I said it to one of my silly friends.

That was when I got the retribution for saying this violent phrase.

“I never heard you say this when you were playing volleyball against other teams.” My former volleyball coach said this to me, when he overheard me.

Hmmm that’s kind of true, I am not really a sports person since the day I was born. I am trying to play sports good, but somehow no matter how hard I tried I am just not good as the others. Alright, I guess I just don’t have talent in it.

State Sanctioned Violence

All day like, seventeen-year-old lungs rip against heaving chests, drained of oxygen instead filled with battery acid.

All night like, polyester raging against its seams, raging against boys, struggling against muscles, pads, and hearts all swollen, all wet with sweat.

With my boys like, helmets too tight to contain caffeine, concussions, and memories.

With my pads like, misshapen boys ill suited for football competing not only against another team but with themselves.

We hit the field like, a week of repeated beat downs a month of lows and season of confused agony.

Dropping bodies like, a body careens toward another without hesitation, without fear or knowledge of how it will collide with the other.

All day, he swells proud of his grit.

All night, he overflows with passion.

With my boys, he demands I follow.

All day, like a young stallion on a single stake.

With my boys, like the veins on his flank, roaring, like the muscles in his hock, screaming: raw power unfathomable in its adolescent intensity.

All day, he drives his head into his helmet and charges back onto the field.

Photo credit: SB Nation

nah

sometimes, we all need to do something that we don’t like at all.

It’s Monday afternoon right now, I’m lying on the carpet in my room alone. 

The LEAP that I used to like but not anymore, started about 10 minutes ago. I should be there, but I don’t really want to move. Due to my old commitments, I force myself to get up and walk there.

And then, I have to come back to my room to change into sports dress, and then go to sports that I don’t like at all. 

Right after that, I need to run back to my room and take a quick shower and get dressed up in a rush. Then go up to the cafeteria to set up for the dress dinner. Yeah, right, a dinner that I don’t want to go at all.

Then it will be study hall, and I have to complete a bunch of assignments that I don’t want to do at all. But guess what, I have to finish all of them tonight since they are due tomorrow.

Why I have to do all of these things that I don’t even like at all? I guess this is how life should be.

photo credit: slowrobot.com

My Time

I broke my foot in October
I thought the world would come to a halt
But only mine did
Everything I had worked for, my season, my future, my passion
It all escaped me
I’d failed
I got the news in November
It was supposed to be my year
I promised it would be my year
I fought for a chance and guaranteed results
And was left to face the consequences
I was left behind
By December I was finished
As selfish as it sounds
It hurt that the world didn’t end like it did for me
I was hurting but the globe kept spinning
Practices continued on without me
Games were played
Fun was had
I was left on the stilts that took me nowhere
In January frustration had become my norm
The jokes didn’t bounce off like they used to
I was consumed by the mistakes that brought me here
I couldn’t forget the memories I never got to make
The apologies I made that could never make my team understand
February is when I finally lost the crutches
But mentally I was still on them
I was afraid to go back to playing
The courts promised me nothing but remorse
My recovery meant getting over my injury
But I wasn’t prepared for the strength it required
In March I was back on my feet
I was playing again
My game was coming back
But it didn’t matter anymore
I was making shots, playing with my team
But it didn’t feet right
I had failed them, and they knew it too

Credit: images.unsplash.com