I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between magic and science, as I attempt to simultaneously write fiction and become a neuroscientist. Many people who are undoubtedly smarter than I am have their intricate reductive opinions. Nonetheless, I’d like to share mine, as it relates to my four years here at Stanford.
If you’re looking for something fun to do at home, take a listen to “Laughter Permitted with Julie Foudy” — a podcast by Foudy '93, a Stanford women’s soccer alumna, two-time World Cup champion (1991, 1999), 2007 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and current ESPN analyst.
I remember the first time I met Erica McCall ’17, who will forever be "Bird" to me. I was just 16, and I was on my unofficial visit to Stanford as a women’s basketball recruit. She showed me her dorm and pitched Stanford to me with this enthusiasm and charisma that has yet to be matched in the six years since then.
For the first time since 2008, baseball and softball will return to the Olympic games, which are set to take place this summer in Tokyo. Also returning to the Olympics is Jessica Mendoza ‘02, a National Softball Hall of Fame 2019 inductee, two-time Olympian and groundbreaking baseball and softball analyst.
I want you to be really honest with yourself when thinking about the following question. Sit with your instinctual answer. Would you be surprised upon hearing that a highly touted college athlete, primarily known for their athletic capabilities, is also an aspiring mechanical engineer, with a 3.7 GPA? Why are you surprised? Where does such a concrete divide between athlete and student come from? Why is there a line at all? Why do you have to be either a student or an athlete? In this realm, you can be either blue or red in the crayon box, and mouths drop when there’s purple.
When an athlete tears their ACL, trainers and medics immediately rush to the scene. In the weeks that follow, a flood of coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning staff and medical specialists are fully invested in getting that athlete physically healthy again. Injured athletes receive treatment and physiotherapy every day until they’re once more able…
As much as material things have their place in our lives, it is the interactions with people who make our lives feel most full, and people who teach us the most. It is important to live in the moment, and enjoy those around us in our immediate presence. It is important to be able to reflect upon those who have paved our path, and guided us to new ones. We fail to see all of these people, as we bounce from one endeavor to the next. Just because something or someone is important, doesn’t mean we always acknowledge it/them.
We know the people who play. We know the people who make the big shots or goals. We look up to these people, we idolize them and we strive to be like them. We know Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Russell Wilson, Serena Williams, Steph Curry, Ronda Rousey and the list goes on. All of these athletes are at the height of their sport. They work incredibly hard when no one is watching, yet they also work incredibly hard when everyone is. There are many individuals who high level athletes credit when they experience success -- often their family, faith, coaches, trainers, and teammates. I believe a lot of people forget that the team is the founding concept, whatever profession that may be in. The glory takes a team of people. In sports, a team consists of more than just the starting lineup, or the majority of the stat sheet. There is a team of driven individuals all fighting for and working towards a chance to shine.
Athletes do not have everything given to them. They do not have a guaranteed job after college through their sport. The reality is that the majority of us don’t.
It makes sense, statistically speaking, that there is an immense pay gap between the male and female side of sports. I am not here to demand equal pay. At the moment, it is not realistic. However, I am here to argue that we should have the opportunity to achieve it one day.
The thrill of game day pulls all of us in. It brings fans, players, coaches, and aspiring young athletes together in one facility. And believe me, it truly is incredible, especially alongside teammates and coaches that you love. There’s beauty and uniqueness in the amount of people that are brought together through sport; there’s nothing quite like it.
We’re human. In being human, we take things for granted. Our mental well being is one of those things. We rely on certain consistencies in our lives, things we expect to always be there. The key word in the previous sentence was ‘lives’, something we often forget how lucky we are to have, until one is taken from us. And usually only then are we humbled.
It’s not easy being surrounded by the best all of the time, but in itself it is the best place to be. Inspiration drives a lot of things, and how to be inspired has been one of the biggest lessons that I have learned through sport. To me, there is a huge difference between working for something because you are inspired, and because you are jealous or envious.
If I could pinpoint one thing that people often miss in sport, it would be character, and how we build it in context. Character is what makes an individual unique, an athlete unique and any team of people unique. What’s not seen are the experiences that build it.
The good the bad and the ugly. Success often comes from experiencing all three. The good will make you feel like you’re on top of the iceberg. It is when you win a game, a regular season, a Pac-12 championship, or a national championship. Yet, as much as there is a tip of the iceberg, there are also kilometers more beneath the freezing cold water, invisible to passers by.
A few times, I’ve heard one of my best friends say “wow, I just had a bigger than basketball moment”. Throughout the past year, I’ve really put some thought into those words, which hold more power than you may think. What does this statement mean?
New year, new me? New year, new team? These phrases float around everywhere on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, the news headlines and many other social networks. I would bet money that the community gyms will be packed during January, yet slowly empty out as the year progresses. Nobody miraculously changes into a new individual, or group of individuals. It is a new year, and new goals have been set, but they’ve been set by the same people. Goal setting is important, and a large part of how people live out unique lives and pursue careers, ambitions and aspirations. But writing down or speaking about what you want is the easy part. With big goals and dreams, comes commitment and motivation, which is undeniably the more difficult part of the system.
What happens in Vegas? Well that depends on who you ask. Most would say a questionably healthy amount of gambling and partying but it just so happened that there was also a women’s basketball tournament at the Mandalay Bay convention center, which was even more fun. And I’m not just saying that because I’m only 19.
Athletes are often seen in one light: as athletes, and in the physical domain. As a member of the women’s basketball team here at Stanford, I hope to change that.
The best time of year is rapidly approaching for one of most tightly knit sports teams on Stanford campus. Basketball is back this Saturday November 4th, at 2pm in Maples against UC San Diego, and the 14 player sisterhood that comprises the Stanford Women’s basketball team is ready to shine even brighter than the spotlight of the 2017 Final Four in Dallas, Texas last season. Yet, this year is unique, as each year is, and began about 6,000 miles East in Rome, Italy.