This article is part of the USA Women's Eagles Final in '14 blog. All entries are written exclusively by members of the women's national team.
Sit back, relax, and take a journey with me to game day.
Like most game days I am up early taking a walk, praying, and trying to visualize myself crushing the opponent. A little while later, the nervous energy is about to explode. I’m skipping around, singing, laughing, and doing my best to relax, but obviously it is not working. Before you know it, we are warming up and putting on our jerseys. My mind is racing. Thoughts rumble fiercely throughout my head. I need a mental escape. Then it hits me, the words of wise coach, Bernie Cantorna. Before every Penn State rugby game when I walk up to him and tell him how nervous I am he always replies with the same message: “Focus on doing the little things right and everything else will just happen on its own.” So simple, yet so true. Before every game these are the words that calm the storm inside my head.
Focusing on performing the small tasks at hand makes the game a lot easier to play. I focus on the catch and staying low and the next thing I know I broke through or gained 10 meters. I focus on putting my shoulder in and getting up quickly and the next thing I know I made a positive tackle and I’m over the ball in the counter-ruck. I focus on winning the space and dropping my knees in the scrum and the next thing I know the opposition is on roller skates going backwards. Rugby is a simple game when you think about it. Sure, I think about doing the big things from time to time. Who doesn’t? However, I find my performance is best and I have the most fun playing when I focus on doing the little things right.
It is funny how the lessons I learn in rugby become a driving force that embodies every area of my life. His words stick with me throughout my incredibly busy day, as well. Sometimes life gets crazy and extremely hectic. It becomes a mindless routine and robotic at times. Where is the escape now? The answer is simple: little things in life bring the most joy. For me, it is seeing the promising rainbow after the rain or after a storm seeing the sun breaking through the sky as if heaven were opening up. It is the cry of an infant that is solely relying on you for their rescue or the tender hug of a small child that the embrace fills you with warmth. It is even in the hard belly laugh with a good friend or the kind gesture of a stranger you probably will never see again.
There you have it, the secret to success. Whether it is in rugby or life, it is the little things that reap the most benefit. So thanks, Bernie. Your words will travel with me wherever I may roam and hopefully with the Eagles to the Final in ’14.