In mid-February, Zach Edler and more than a dozen others set out on a 25-day adventure, rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. They were essentially unplugged, on the water for days without cell and internet connection, according to a story in the New York Times.
“Somebody would always joke and say, ‘What if we come back to a world where nothing is the same?’” Mr. Edler was quoted as saying in the story. “Of course, it never happens. Except for this time. This time it did.”
That’s the thing: COVID-19 has impacted the world, even if Edler and those on the rafting trip with him had no idea.
There’s been a lot of highs and lows since then, but we’re facing yet another reality: By every measure and model, COVID-19 is dangerously spreading in the United States and once again threatening what semblance of normal routines we’d enjoyed in recent months.
As always, my passion and heart is for our young athletes and those who care for them.
But first a disclaimer: I am not a perfect person, in any capacity, as a husband, father, coach, speaker, author, friend… My wife and I recently had virtual visits with the teachers of our two children, and there was — to put it kindly — lots for each of them to work on. Similar “opportunities for growth” provided by their soccer coaches.
Still, for the sake of my children and the many others who inspire me, I always try to focus on being a source of light rather than darkness.
So here’s my list of six keys to help young athletes persevere through COVID. On my podcast, Winning Is Not Everything, I will dive deeper into each of these keys in the coming weeks.
Be grateful — It may be countercultural, given all the challenges and problems in our world, but being intentional to note what you are thankful for has wide-reaching health benefits.
Be active — Yes, gyms may be a hotspot, organized sports may be paused or outright cancelled, and the temperature is dropping in many parts of the country, including here in Minnesota. But the importance of moving our bodies to help our mind and spirit cannot be understated. So develop a routine, watch free YouTube workouts, or bundle up and go for long walks outside.
Be engaged — Many businesses are struggling during COVID. But one that’s booming is Zoom, which is regularly breaking new records for sales and subscribers. Zoom fatigue is real, but what’s the alternative? Loneliness? Isolating yourself into a corner of your bedroom? Just like being grateful and active, being engaged has a broad impact on your health.
Be agile — The word derives from the Latin word agilis, which means quick or nimble. Is there a more important and appropriate word right now? Things are changing so quickly and fluidly. And rather than complain, whine and mope, we should be focused on being agile, tapping into our creativity and ability to adjust as our life demands.
Don’t seek perfection — Are you the type of parent who carefully follows every recipe and serves dinner at the same time every night? Or are you the type of young athlete who dwells more on the two missed shots instead of the five made ones? COVID has proven over and over that no one has all the answers! Really try to focus on the word grace — and show some to those in your life and, most importantly, to yourself.
Be positive — I often tell my kids: “Control what you can control.” And no matter the circumstance or challenge, you — and only you! — control your attitude. That doesn’t mean you’re going to win at everything, or that you will always get what you want. But it does mean that you try to choose hope over despair, and joy over misery.
To dive deeper into being grateful and being active, click here to listen to the episode from my podcast, Winning Is Not Everything. You can listen to more on being engaged and being agile by clicking here. Lastly, click here to find a link to major podcast platforms so you can subscribe and receive notifications when my new podcast episodes become available!