There are times in life — just like in sports — when a person must ask themselves one question about what defines them as person.
What’s your inner drive? Or more to the point, what pushes you to wake up this day and become better, to take that next stage in becoming what you want to become?
Many people inherently find these little edges to become better in sports. It’s just motivation in finding ways to get to that next step, whether it’s running faster or lifting more. It’s a driving force created from a strong sense of self belief.
“We want them to begin to really believe in themselves,” said Bonney Lake football coach Jason Silbaugh when discussing his players’ motivation going into the summer offseason. “We want them to use the weight lifting programs with that mindset because that’s when you really begin to do (all work) with more purpose.”
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A person who is greatly motivated will improve by leaps and bounds is what Silbaugh was alluding to.
But what motivates an athlete to get better every day — especially on those mornings when it’s tough to get out of bed? What pushes that aspect in a person?
“I set goals,” Sumner High running back Connor Wedington said. “I have a set time in when I wanted to accomplish things … I wanted to start my sophomore year, and I did that.”
Sometimes it’s as simple as that — using each and every day to reach a point, a goal, where there’s a sense of accomplishment felt in a person.
Yet Wedington is speaking beyond just playing a game. As a sophomore, he applies this attitude in everything he does in life. It’s about reaching a point where you feel comfortable.
The trick is you have to keep your eyes on the present.
“I want to play football, so I know I have to get my schoolwork done,” Wedington said. “I apply the same approach of what I put towards football towards my (studies).”
For Wedington, the harsh mornings where every joint and muscle aches, the creaks and pops heard and felt are worth it. His end game (playing in college) is within sight, even if he’s got a few years to go.
“I feel that once I felt comfortable working with the team, working within the community and being a part of the school, I began to understand what my coaches were telling me,” Brandon Carter said. “I felt like I was working toward something beyond just myself ... I avoided the distractions (outside of school) because I want to go somewhere.”
Carter, a former Emerald Ridge defensive end whose senior season led to him being named to The News Tribune’s All-Area defensive first team, admits that he didn’t put his full self into both sports and school until last fall.
The Emerald Ridge High coaching staff never gave up on him. Not because they believed in his ability — they demonstrated who Carter could become.
“The coaches always pushed me to get better,” Carter said. “They showed that they care for me — they show everyone on the team that they care about them as a person. This last year, I finally understood what coach (Troy) Halfaday meant by ‘student-athlete.’”
More on that story next week.
“I want to get where I feel my pitches need to feel when I release them,” Emerald Ridge starter Nate Packard said. “I feel I need to work harder in my bullpen (throwing sessions) to get to there.”
Self-understanding is what Packard is talking about when he was talking about why he plays summer baseball — besides the obvious answer about playing baseball (living a dream).
It’s all about a goal, not just for this summer, but for spring 2016 when he takes the mound for Emerald Ridge. The present is just his motivation to reach the point he feels he needs to reach before spring ball comes.
When you see a person that has this inner desire to get better each day, it’s hard not to appreciate that strength.