I’m not a gifted cyclist, but I’m a good cyclist. What does that mean? It means that I don’t have a lot of talent for the sport. I don’t have a big capacity for endurance activities. Never did.
On the bike, we sometimes refer to that as a Big Engine. I definitely don’t have a Big Engine. I struggle on hills. I can’t really take days off, even when I don’t feel like riding. I just can’t keep up if I do.
That’s partly because of the people I ride with. Emil, who is a freak on the bike. Steve, who is super-strong. Maysoun, who is a beast. Barry and Trent, who have won multiple state championships in cycling.
On most rides, I am not only the oldest, but I’m the heaviest. My body just isn’t the typical body type found in most of the best cyclists. But I keep going. Because I love it.
And that’s my point for today. You don’t have to be the best. You don’t have to be the most gifted. But if you love a sport, you can be pretty darn good if you really want to be. I know.
You might remember Mugsy Bogues. Played in the NBA at 5 feet, 2 inches tall. Nobody thought he could do that. I’ve known a lot of football players that were too small, too slow, not athletic enough and they became really good football players. Champions actually.
What are some of the things you can do? Obviously work hard. I used this quote a month or so ago: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Putting in the time, the training, the effort is essential.
In my job, in the service activities I do, on the bicycle, I strive to be the hardest working person out there. The way I look at it, I have more to overcome. Plus, I’m a baby boomer and working harder to accomplish our goals is all we know.
I heard a coach this week promise his team that if they put in the effort, that good things would happen to them, as a team and as an individual. Through my almost four decades of working with high school athletes, I’ve seen it happen many times. Perpetually. Constantly.
The kid that was never a star on the little league team, who never started for the junior high team, who hardly saw the field in several years of youth sports participation. They stay with it, keep working, and are finally a valuable member of their team.
I remember one kid that as a freshman didn’t seem to have the size or the athleticism to ever contribute to his team. His coach even said as much. But I saw a spark in that kid, a willingness to do the work. I bet the coach a steak dinner that this kid would be a starter by his senior year.
I won that bet. The kid won a state championship as a starter too. He fully manifest that work ethic and burning desire that I saw in him as a freshman to become good. He even went on to play in college.
What else can you do? Be a great teammate. I wrote about that recently, too. Stay coachable. Your coaches want you to be the best you can be. They want you to do well. So when they tell you something, listen. And try to do it their way.
Show up on time. Focus on what you’re supposed to be doing. Be a positive force on your team. Always encourage others. Put in the time in the weight room, on the track, in the gym. Eat healthy. Remember, garbage in, garbage out. Hydrate. Set personal goals then destroy them.
If you love your sport, you will make it a priority. Not a priority that excludes all other things (school, job, family) but certainly more important than wasting time on things that shouldn’t even be on your priority list.
Gifted? Not me. But I can work hard. Anyone can do that and the other things I mention here. It has nothing to do with being gifted. And here’s the cool thing — you get to decide what you do and how far you go.