January 29th, 2013 | Uncategorized

Hello everyone, 
First and foremost….congratulations to Sarah and her UL teammates for bringing home the Superleague National Cup! It was a privilege getting to watch the game in Dublin…and great seeing Gareth, Anna, and Enya there. On my end, it’s been quite a week to report on…And I honestly don’t even know where to begin. Lessons were surely learned on all fronts. 

Lesson 1: Shoes first. Then soccer. 
I woke up early yesterday to coach the little ones (5-6 year olds). These sessions are never complete without one source of amusement. One of the more energetic players showed up to training a few minutes late, and I noticed that he was running awkwardly. No, not one of the normal, cute little 5-year old waddles, either. I looked down and noticed that both of his shoes seemed to curl to the outside. Yes. He had managed to put his cleats on the wrong feet and play soccer for 20 minutes. Impressive, if you think about it. As a disclaimer, I coach soccer…I don’t teach them how to put their shoes on. 

Lesson 2: Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. 
On Wednesday, I visited Corpus Christi Primary School, working with 11 and 12 year olds from Moyross on math and spelling problems before we headed to the gym for 30 minutes of soccer. There are times, during these sessions, when I simply want to point out the answer…to jump through the learning process, because it often feels as though no progress is being made. Many of them will often glance at the worksheet on the desk, and give up with little or no effort, making the process all the more frustrating. And yet, experience has proven that, given time and encouragement, they eventually reach the solution by themselves. Hopefully, some of them recognize the merit in this new-found autonomy. For these kids, closing the book on the final math problem means they get to race through the hallways to the gym, divide into teams, and kick a ball for a half hour. The enthusiasm and appreciation for this opportunity yields a small glimpse into the mantra of this year’s work: Sport really does change lives.

Lesson 3: Control what you can control. 
I purchased a yoga mat recently…best 15 euros I’ve ever spent. In a recent decision to take advantage of what little soccer is left in this body, a month ago I started doing yoga and stretching every morning to possibly shoot some youth into these legs. For the last three weeks, it has worked wonders, and I have felt healthier and fitter than I have in months…my hamstring is holding up well – kinesiotape, compression sleeves, icing, weightlifting, a healthier diet, and yoga all seemed to be working. A lot of work, but it was paying off. Until…spoiler alert…Déjà vu.

I fully expect that none of you reading this will believe the words that follow, because I am having a difficult time grasping them myself…yet, I have somehow sustained another injury despite my best efforts to avoid them. For anyone keeping count, that’s 5 in 7 months. I have never been one to shy away from a physical (though clean) battle in a game, and I’ve always been a smaller player, so going into these battles without fear is essential to coming out in one piece. Last night’s match unfortunately yielded a different outcome. A messy (though clean) collision with two 6’5” Irish blokes resulted in my body getting tossed into the air and landing with excruciating force on my left shoulder. X-ray verdict: torn ligaments in my AC joint, between my collarbone and shoulder blade. 

I am a firm believer in clinging desperately to silver linings…because, as someone who over-thinks and over-analyzes frequently, they are often the only things keeping me sane. So, the good news is that this injury is not the result of lack of preparation or fitness. It was sheer bad luck. As I enter into an all new period of rest and rehab, with the full intention of a 100% recovery and more soccer at the other end, I’ve encountered yet another valuable lesson from this roller coaster of a year: As long as you control the things you can control, make the preparations that need to be made, and put forth the work that needs to be put forth, you will have NO regrets. So, with that, all I can do is be patient. And anyone who knows me, can vouch for how well I do that. For those who don’t, that was sarcasm. 

Thanks for reading Ryan 🙂

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