One Door Closes, Another Opens

U.S. Coach Pia Sundhage named her roster Monday for this summer's Women's World Cup in Germany.

Our intrepid blogger was not named to the United States roster, which was announced Monday, for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Germany. She nevertheless filed this assessment.

“It’s interesting to contemplate how our lives build to these special, pivotal moments — the moments we dream of, work toward, and emphasize so heavily. But, in truth, the bulk of our lives are in the in-between time, the waiting. The ‘off moments,’ so to speak. The special moments are only minor reference points along the way. … I don’t play this sport for the moment of glory. And I think the people who do are missing out. Yes, I love the roar of the crowd, the championship game and the thrill of performing when it really matters — but I love the preparation — the process — equally as much.”

ON THE ROAD TO BUFFALO — The above passage is from a speech I gave in January 2010. My journey has been full of these reference points. But sprinkled among many wonderful, exhilarating moments, has been my fair share of disappointments.

When Pia [Coach Sundhage] said to me, “You are not on the roster for the World Cup team,” my heart dropped momentarily. In the minutes after, reality sank in. I scanned my memory in search of anything I could have done better or differently. I felt angry, sad, embarrassed.

I had poured my heart and soul into a goal that I didn’t achieve. In my journal, “Germany 2011” is written in big letters and in multiple places. So, yes, I felt all of the emotions that come along with failure (the day I don’t feel that way is the day I’ll know that I should no longer play competitive sports). But then I opened my journal to a fresh page and wrote: “Olympics 2012.”

Conquering my fear of failure has been a monumental step in my development as a person and an athlete. Actually, maybe no one really ever conquers the fear of failure. Maybe it’s all about reframing one’s definitions of success and failure. How can I ever truly fail if I do my very best? This process has led to significant growth for me as a player, and I feel very proud of what I offer on the field. The only way I could have failed is to not have grown along the way.

I don’t mean to gloss over the disappointment I feel, or in any way diminish the great accomplishment of those players who have made the roster. But my reasonable side continually reminds me that this is just another one of those moments — a blip on the radar screen that maps my unique path. Playing in a Women’s World Cup is one of my ultimate goals, yet doing so will make me no greater of a player. Likewise, not being in Germany this summer makes me no less of one.

So, as this chapter of my journey ends, another one begins. I am heading up to Buffalo to join my W.P.S. team, the Western New York Flash. I’ll have the opportunity to train and play alongside some of the greatest female players in the world (Marta and Christine Sinclair, among others). As the door to one opportunity closed for me, another one opens. The only way I could possibly fail at this point is to focus so much on the past as to miss out on what presents itself on the road ahead.