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FitDeck Blog with Founder Phil Black

What it takes to Compete

Posted by Phil Black on October 10th, 2014

This Heather Dorniden video really fires me up. To think that this young woman had the wherewithal (and guts) to get off the floor and start pursuing the leader in such a short race is unbelievable to me.  Not only did she pursue – she won.  Where does she come off?


The 600m race is essentially a dead sprint. The athletes run as fast at they can from the second the starting gun goes off. There’s a bit of pacing involved – but not much.  The race lasts for about 90 seconds. It’s over before you can peel the foil off your Klondike bar.


There is no margin of error. One false move and the race is over.  Sometimes one bad foot placement in your lane can be the difference between victory and defeat. There is simply no time to recover from a mishap in a 90-second race. Thankfully, Heather Dorniden never got that Memo.


I have to search far-and-wide to find this type of grit in today’s young athletes.  There are some kids who clearly have “it”, but most don’t. I’m not sure where the reluctance to compete comes from.  Overprotective parents? Legal system? League Rules? Coddling schools? Lack of outdoor play? Video games?


When I coach my sons’ basketball team this winter, I will have one goal for the entire season. I want the kids to “compete”. By “compete” I mean I want them to play like it matters. If someone rips the ball out of their hands, I want them to notice. I want it to register. I want it to matter.


Sports are not a place where everyone has “their turn” with the ball.  The people who “compete for the ball” will get the ball. Life is not much different. If you wait your turn, you may not get another chance. This is a life lesson with far-reaching implications. Better to have the kids learn this lesson sooner than later.  


I’m not suggesting that kids run around like thugs, but I want to see them fight for the ball - even if they lose it. I want to see it in their eyes.  Even if they don’t play with the “controlled rage” of the most competitive kids, they can still (and should) mix it up.


Heather Dorniden ran that 600m race with controlled rage.  She competed. She wasn’t going down without a fight – because that race mattered to her. She will likely have much more difficult challenges down the road – and my money’s on her to win again. 

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