Sunday, April 25, 2010

Love conquered fear.

I was going to wait to write in this because I'm exhausted, but I don't think there's a better time in the world than right now to think about all the awesome rugby experiences I had this weekend. 
First of all, the quote in the title of this post is absolutely perfect to sum up how this weekend turned out: love conquered fear. For a while now I have been extremely nervous for the all star games that I played in today, and finally I think that my pure love for the game and my desire to just play awesome rugby completely conquered my fear and nerves about actually doing well. What's funny is that usually when this happens is when you end up playing your best rugby game. Before today really all I was thinking about was playing well and making sure that I performed the best that I could. I put tons of pressure on myself, and I had extremely high (and maybe unreal) expectations. At the 7 hour practice we had I proved to myself how putting too much pressure on yourself can be a really negative and bad thing, and it completely showed in my game. But I think that the change I made for these two games was what exactly I was putting pressure on myself for; instead of putting pressure on myself to be a fantastic player, I was putting a healthy amount of pressure on myself to play, experience, and learn the best rugby that I could because of how great of an opportunity this is. It definitely made all the difference, because I didn't really have as many nerves to do the things I normally do. Playing with this high level team in this high level competition wasn't as foreign and scary anymore; deep down it was really just the same game I've always played and loved to play. Knowing this, I did all the things I normally would do in a game and I did them pretty well I think! I don't think I played my very best, but I certainly think I put in a great effort, learned a ton, and gained an immense amount of experience. 
Also, I experienced 10s for the first time this weekend. I never realized how big of a difference taking out five players makes in the game of rugby! At first when we all decided to play 10s instead of the regular 15s, I didn't think it was that big of a deal because only 7s sounded like a drastic change to me. But 10s is still a decent amount more running, especially for the forwards. We took on more of a back position, which I was not used to, and there certainly isn't as much rucking in 10s. I think there is a lot more of pick and go along with quick passes involved, or maybe just quicker loose play in general. What's funny is that I have been absolutely training my butt off forever for the all star team, and I was absolutely winded from playing 10s for the first time! At first I had a heart attack because I thought that all of my training had completely failed me and that I would be completely doomed for my all star games. But during the all star 15s games I noticed the significant difference in the two, and I was much more in shape for that type of play (THANK GOD).  
I have also come to notice that rugby players are some of the absolute best people to talk to, and also some of the smartest people I have ever met (which probably goes hand in hand with why they're so interesting and great to talk to)! Not only are many of them witty and hysterical, but some of them just seem to be able to make a great conversation out of just about anything. And I don't think it's shocking or surprising; not only is rugby such a team oriented sport with everyone looking out for one another, but it's also such an incredibly smart game. There are an endless amount of strategies used in rugby, and I'd say at least half of the game requires you to seriously use your brain. I'm just so happy to be involved with this culture, the sport and the people involved in it are all completely worthwhile.  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trudging through.

7:18 mile today. Getting there.

This upcoming weekend is a tournament with my school's team and games with the all star team. I cannot even begin to express how excited I am that I will probably get to play 4 games of rugby in one weekend. But I cannot even bare the thought that rugby season basically ends in 2 weeks, NOOOOOOOOO. I better love every second of this weekend and the next because it's probably the last times I'll get to play rugby until next fall! I tried to play on a team back home over the summer, but usually when I'm just getting back from school their finishing up their season. So frustrating! I hope that my preparations for the all star team (and for rugby in general) have been enough. I don't know if I've ever really experienced the feeling that I've done "enough," and I probably won't really know until I actually play in a game, but I know that I can say to myself that I am working hard and putting time in.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What we do in life echoes in eternity.

I pushed down my mile time to 7:30's getting there, working progress I guess. But I think that's very important to work on; both endurance and speed because in my eyes they're both equally important. 

I'm starting to realize why before every single rugby game in the fall I watched the movie Gladiator to pump me up for it. First of all, from the get go the first scene in the movie reminds me of rugby. It's a battlefield; there's two clear sides on a field facing each other with space in between (looks just like the start of a rugby match). And I can't help but think of rugby every single time I see this first battle scene because Russell Crowe holds down the front line until one specific moment when they all EXPLODE together, and this just reminds me on a kick off when our team is together and we yell in sync, "Ready....ready....FIRE!" and all do that same explosion together on defense. Russell Crowe also says a lot in that first battle scene about the army working "as one" and sticking together, which is what a rugby team does too. 
Also, I love the idea that size doesn't matter; even the littlest guy can conquer and do something big. Russell Crowe in the movie was little literally (by being a gladiator) and physically; I'd say at least 90% of the guys he fought as a gladiator were bigger than him. I think this also holds true for rugby; size doesn't matter. You don't have to be huge to be good. David can beat Golliath all day in rugby with good old fashioned skill and athleticism. It makes me smile to think that a good rugby player doesn't have a face or a size. 
I've also thought of rugby as being sort of like a battle or a war. Just the strategy and unity of the team that goes into every move of attack is a lot like an army. We all fight together and keep pounding and pounding while being pounded at the same time. 

Siiiiiiiigh, it's a great game. A great great game. 

Monday, April 12, 2010


Two of our new players learned how to lift today and they did really well! I'm so happy! 
Just needed to broadcast it because I'm so happy about it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Good GOD, I really bit the bullet on this one. Today was the 7 hour all star practice and I did not play well. I am extremely disappointed in myself in so many ways. My communication was non existent; I did not talk well on and off the field! I should have spoken up more, saying that I would try as many positions as I possibly can whether I am good at them or not. Although I was nice to all the girls and talked amongst them a little, I really think I could have put in more of an effort to talk to them even more, take that one step further. I was super duper shy, and it affected my game drastically. In my mind, I was sort of playing my own mother, saying, "You know better than that!" because I DO know better than that! I know that I am capable of communicating well, so there was no excuse for it at all! I know that a lame excuse (and basically not an excuse at all) for my silence was the amount of nerves I had going into this practice. And these nerves obviously affected my confidence level as well, which is practically death in rugby. Although I definitely put in my best efforts, I know there were times in my head where I may have said once or twice, "I can't run the ball, I'm not good enough," or, "Maybe I shouldn't enter that ruck because I'm not good enough." There is no time in rugby for this hesitation and doubt!! And I KNOW THIS! I-KNOW-THIS so incredibly well, and I can't believe it defeated me today. 
The coach even said to me at one point today, "Blue, you okay? Your focus is worrying me," and it really frazzled me. I had a heart attack at the thought that the coach didn't think I was focusing, because there was nothing more that I was doing than focusing on rugby during that practice and during my entire spring break. I wanted to try so so so so hard, give it my absolute all, and be phenomenal, be able to show all the hard work I have put in so far. But it's such a disappointing thought to think that my efforts were not reflected in my performance today. Horrible! Just horrible.
I thought about sending some sort of apology email to the coaches, telling them how disappointed in my own performance I was, how hard I've worked, and how much harder I plan to work before our tournament. But now I have completely discarded that thought. I wanted to cry at practice, I wanted to cry my eyes out on the way home, and I still feel like crying now, but the tears don't come because I know how completely useless they are. Crying or telling the coaches that I think I did poorly is not going to change anything. That practice is over. I did not play to the best of my abilities and the only thing to do is FIX it for the future so it NEVER happens again. I need to run more, lift more, do more push ups and sit ups, and make sure that whatever chance I get to play rugby (whether a practice or a game) I utilize it as much as possible. That's another reason why I was probably such a step off from everyone else; I have not played in a game since the last tryout for this team, which was three weeks ago, and I know that basically all the other girls had played in tons of tournaments (many of them even played yesterday). No matter how many miles I ran over my spring break or weights I lifted or push ups and sit ups I did, it was not preparation for a rugby game. Even after working my butt off and putting in 100000000% effort on my own, I still felt like I was going to blow chunks after 5 minutes of a scrimmage we had! But what's also funny is that once I've been hit a few times, I suddenly feel like I get my boost and I can run and sprint all day while hitting people and getting hit. That's probably the rugby syndrome you get into from playing the game, and I'm sure it comes faster and faster the more you play. Like I've said before, there is no substitution for experience in rugby. 
Even though I personally did not do well, that doesn't mean that the practice was bad or in any way unproductive. My failure was due to nothing but myself. The practice itself was really informative! I'm really happy with some of the new drills I got to experience and can take back to my own team here. I wish that everyone on my team could've experienced what I got to today, I am so grateful that I was even given the opportunity to go to this practice! I need to remember, I didn't even expect to make this team in the first place. I was incredibly shocked that I made it, and I've already said that I knew this was going to be very hard and I would have a tough time with it. I need to think of being on this team as an absolute privilege. I don't think I haven't thought of it as one already, but maybe I'm not realizing how awesome of an opportunity this is in general, whether I do well or not. These are great players and great coaches, and it really can't get any better than this. Each experience with rugby definitely chips away at you, molding you into a better player every single time you have a new one. I already feel whipped into shape (literally and figuratively, ha) after just a practice. Not a lot of people got to add this experience to their rugby knowledge. 
So I can't deny that I am sad, really sad, at how things went today in terms of me not meeting my own personal expectations (I still can't help but tear up and choke up while writing this). But I know that I have to nip it in the bud immediately, as soon as possible. There is no time for this! I need to get back on the bandwagon, take every resource I can find, and use it to my advantage to make me better. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some people like to be all "chatty kathy" with it.

Phew, it has been quite the journey to train for this all star team. I really do think I'm giving it pretty much everything I've got, and it's tough for me to say that and mean it. I'm my own toughest critic, and nothing is ever good enough. Usually I never think that I am working hard enough; I always tell myself that I require more, that whatever I'm doing is unsatisfactory and that I need to work harder. Although I know I still have a long way to go, I know that up until this point I have been pushing my every limit. I've been breaking my every boundary; I've been using my every bone and muscle to the fullest. There have been so many times already where my body has been beaten and pushed as far as it can possibly go and then reused again. I caught an absolutely horrid flu for about 5 days, and every single one of those days I still did the same exact amount of training that I would have done in full health. My ankles have been absolutely dying throughout this whole process, but I have been doing every possible thing I can to not let them get in the way. I have pushed my way through incredible amounts of pain.
Maybe I am being full of myself and maybe I am overreacting to the training I've been putting myself through, but I know for a fact that I have been taking this all star team VERY seriously, and changing my whole life around for it. I have changed all of my eating habits (and I usually have an infinite appetite), and every single day I am constantly thinking about the practice that is coming up and the amount of work I still need to do in order to be prepared for it. I still feel like I only made the all star team as a water girl or something, and I think my odds are stacked against me (could be partially due to the fact that I was not even considering the possibility of me being able to make this team at all) because I knew at both tryouts that for my position I am not the typical size. But these cannot be excuses, and I know that sometimes I live for and thrive in the underdog situation. I like proving people wrong, I think that's why sometimes in sports my best year was my freshman year.
I know deep down I'm really scared, I'm super nervous. I have accepted the fact that no matter what, this is going to be really hard. But if there's anything that I have learned in life, I've learned that even though there are hard and scary things in life, you cannot avoid or run away from them. All I can do, and all I will do, is prepare myself as much as possible and face my fears full throttle. In rugby, there is absolutely no room for doubt on the pitch. You absolutely cannot think for a second you are going to fail, even if the odds are completely stacked against you. I think that doing anything in rugby with a hint of doubt probably has a 0% success rate. I have to have pure confidence in myself and the rest of the people I play with. Maybe I was only picked out of pity, or because they wanted at least somebody from every school to make it, or who knows what other reason, but I am going to show everyone (especially myself) that I deserve to be there just as much as anyone else because I leave my heart on the field every single time I step on and off it.