Empowering Resiliency

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Written By: Marco Sifoni

Edited By: Lee DelleMonache

When times are tough we tend to fall down but, as many sports related movies have displayed, it is not about how you fall it is how you get back up.  Take Rocky Balboa’s quote for example, “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.  But it ain’t how hard ya hit.  It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  How much you can take and keep moving forward.  That’s how winning is done!”  Sport movies are usually a great example to all of us.  They inspire us to be resilient in everyday life, let alone sports.  There have been many stories in reality that exemplify resilience such as:

  • The De La Salle Spartans high school football team losing their 151 winning streak to continuing to state cha  mpionship status
  • The Ehret Patriots high school basketball team from surviving Hurricane Katrina to fighting adversity amongst teammates to making the playoffs and winning the Louisiana State Title
  • Buster Douglas defeating Mike Tyson after being knocked down
  • Last year seeing the New England Patriots comeback from a 25 point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons for the Superbowl.

One story, I recently read in a blog, What Enables a Student to Be Resilient on Growing Leaders, sticks out in particular.  The life and perspective of Jake Olson, Long Snapper for the USC Trojans.

Jake Olson is not your average college football player.  Jake actually became blind at the age of 12.  He battled cancer in his eyes as a newborn and with surgery was able to see through one eye.  Then he was left without any vision when the cancer returned at 12 years old.  Most people would assume that being blind would inhibit someone from playing sports but, Jake did not give up on his dreams of playing football.  Jake made his high school football team as long snapper his junior and senior years and then tried out and made the University of Southern California football team.  Each of us can take a hint from Jake’s life and experiences.  When you face those tough times alone it can be very down putting.  Jake credits his success and resiliency to his relationships, resourcefulness, and responsiveness.


There are times where our relationships can step in and help us pick ourselves back up.  The people whom we surround ourselves with can give us the support and encouragement that we need in order to “keep moving forward”. Our relationships will carry us to new heights.


We can rely on our resourcefulness, as Jake relied on his other four senses and his teammates to complete his responsibilities as a long snapper.  Sometimes we may be in a situation where we think there is no way out but, “if there is a will there is a way.”  Whether if we have to train, prepare, or compete differently, we can find ways to be creative and use our resources to make up for what we lack in order to strive for excellence.


Lastly, in order to be resilient, we need to be willing to adjust and be flexible.  Our reactions and responses to different situations will inform us on how resilient we can be.


Neumann University adds a fourth “R” to developing resiliency: Reflection.  Whether you are on a losing streak, trying to recover from an injury, or down in a game with only 2 minutes to go, your relationships, resourcefulness, and responsiveness will show you how resilient you can be.  Win or lose, deep down inside of you is the will to pick yourself up and keep going.  You must discover what that something deep down inside of you is that will keep motivating yourself to bounce back.  Self-reflection and self-awareness are key to discovering what that is.

The Neumann University Institute for Sport, Spirituality, and Character Development provides our athletic teams with the opportunities to reflect and develop relationships.  Through Evenings of Reflections and Leadership Training Workshops, student-athletes are given the time to reflect on their lives, relationships, and God-given talents, not only their sport.  Team Chaplains are also a part of each team to nurture, guide, and develop students’ growth.  So, go out there, believe in yourself, capitalize on your relationships, resourcefulness, responsiveness, and reflection, and make it happen!


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