“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”
John Wooden

Saturday, August 29, 2015

How to Increase Mental Toughness: 4 Secrets of Navy SEALs and Olympians

By Eric Barker | 08/27/15 

Know what’s really interesting? Learning how Navy SEALs build mental toughness to handle deadly situations. 

Know what else is really interesting? Learning how Olympic athletes deal with the pressure of competition when the entire world is watching. 

Know what’s the most interesting of all? When you find out they do a lot of the same things. 

“Mental Links To Excellence” is a research study of what Olympians do to prepare for their big day. And so much of it lines up with what I learned researching SEAL training and talking to former Navy SEAL Platoon Commander James Waters. 

The best part is you and I can use these methods to perform better at work and in our personal lives. 

Let’s find out how… 

1) Talk Positively to Yourself 

Your brain is always going. It’s estimated you say 300 to 1000 words to yourself per minute. Olympic athletes and SEALs agree: those words need to be positive. 

One of the Olympians said: 

Immediately before the race I was thinking about trying to stay on that edge, just letting myself relax, and doing a lot of positive self-talk about what I was going to do. I just felt like we couldn’t do anything wrong. It was just up to us. I said, “There’s nothing that’s affecting us in a negative way, the only thing now is to do it, and we can do it…I just have to do my best.” 

SEALs use the same method—and they do it in a far more terrifying scenario. How terrifying? 

You’re underwater with SCUBA gear. An instructor suddenly swims up behind you. He yanks the regulator out of your mouth. You can’t breathe. Then he ties your oxygen lines in a knot. 

Your brain starts screaming, “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.” But you have to keep cool, stay underwater and follow procedure to get your gear back in working order so you can breathe again. 

And this happens over and over—for 20 minutes. Welcome to the dreaded “pool comp” section of SEAL qualification. 

You get 4 attempts. 

Why? Because you need them. 

Only one in five guys can do it the first time out. 

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Megan Hodge Easy: Spiking for the USA

By Matt Goisman
August 8, 2015


U.S. Olympic volleyball star Megan Hodge Easy relaxes with her husband, former NFL player Omar Easy, and their nine-month-old son Easton at their summer home in East Falmouth. Megan won a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and is a 2016 Olympics hopeful. STEVE HAINES/CAPE COD TIMES

EAST FALMOUTH - When you’re an Olympic indoor volleyball player like Megan Easy, you travel. A lot. The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) World Grand Prix alone took her to Turkey, Russia, Hong Kong and finally Omaha, Nebraska, for the final round, in which the U.S. won gold for the fourth time since Easy joined the team.
Next up for the U.S. is the FIVB World Cup in Japan starting August 22. Easy left last week for two weeks of training with USA Volleyball in Anaheim, California, and then heads to Japan for the 2016 Olympic Games qualifier.
Between competitions, Easy is happy to relax with her husband Omar Easy and 9-month-old baby Easton in their summer home at The Golf Club of Cape Cod.
“It’s where we come to just kind of take our minds off of everything and enjoy it,” Megan said. “That’s kind of what this home, what this area, symbolizes for us, is peace and quiet and time away from everything and everyone. It’s just a beautiful place.”
Omar and Megan bought their home, the backyard of which overlooks the 10th hole, in April 2013, two months before they were married. Megan, 26, was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and grew up in Durham, North Carolina, before accepting a volleyball scholarship to Pennsylvania State University. So her familiarity with the Cape was limited prior to purchasing the property.
Omar, however, has been coming to the Cape for decades. His guidance counselor at Everett High School, Richard Aliberti, owned a summer home in Cotuit, and Omar would often visit Aliberti.
The two remain friends to this day. Aliberti introduced Omar to golf - Omar won The Golf Club of Cape Cod - championship in 2014 and volunteers with Aliberti’s youth golf program in Hyannis - which in turn helped bring Omar and Megan together.
Omar, 37, was a star football player during his two years at Everett, then went on to play for Penn State until he was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2002, the start of a four-year NFL career. Omar later returned to Penn State to earn a Ph.D. in education administration and work for the Nittany Lions, and one of his hobbies in State College was playing golf with women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose.
Megan Hodge (her maiden name) played for Penn State from 2006 to 2009, tallying a kill on the final point of the 2009 national championship against Texas, her last collegiate match. The win, PSU’s third national title in as many years, stretched the Nittany Lions’ winning streak to 102 matches, and the team went on to win the first seven matches of the 2010 season before finally losing.
Rose, Omar said, would often talk about Megan when they golfed together. Rose would then often talk to Megan about Omar.
“I actually knew that I was going to marry her after the first date we went on,” Omar said. “We sat in the car and talked for about three or four hours until the battery on my car died and I had to get roadside assistance to come get us started again.”

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How Old School Are You?

By John Kessel
May 23. 2015

There are long time players who reminisce about the way volleyball used to be played in the days of sideout, not rally, scoring. Having played for years, I remember the competitions which started at 8 am and went until 4am the next day, or speaking to parents about their child still playing in an event after midnight. Sideout scoring, when you only got a point when you served, at times meant the score would still be 0-0 after 10 minutes of play. Still, players fondly remember those battles and even play the game by “old school” rules.  If you really want to play by the old rules, you can read William G. Morgan’s rules from 1897, and play on a 6 foot 6in net, with “air dribbling,” a 25 foot court, and even games of 1 vs 1.
A doctor friend was recently listening to my frustrations in the ways coaches simply keep teaching the way they were taught. So many coaches don't think they need to attend any clinics because they feel they are already good coaches, since they either played (no matter if jungle ball or college ball level) or have watched the game.
As we observed these self-anointed "coaches" who either lacked any formal training, or who have not taken time to learn the facts,  science, research and lessons from IMPACT, in favor of their own opinions, he made comment that hit home with me – “If I practiced medicine the way I did just ten years ago, I would be sued for malpractice…” Then we sat and watched who "coached" by making kids run after losses or even do push-ups during a match after some sort of error.
We looked over to another court where the coach was acting disgusted, slamming a clip board even, as if the players below average performance was somehow done on purpose and a personal insult to their coaching "expertise." 
Behind us was another court where we did not even have to see the court as we heard a coach yelling at her young players about not caring enough to win and for missing so many "stupid serves."
What will it take for these supposed coaches to get with the times? To begin being a teacher rather than a sports talk commentator?  To give specific positive feed forward rather bailing out on the job of teaching and simply making kids run? To “coach” in the roots of the word, taking valuable cargo from one place to another SAFELY.  I bet few of them even know about the ongoing development of safe sport by the US Olympic Committee, but I will share it here www.safesport.org  for parents and players may know more than the coach, and have to teach a lesson.
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Monday, August 3, 2015

The Weight of the World

When Chevi Peters felt his weakest, he wanted to "end it all" -- until Special Olympics powerlifting helped him find his strength.

By Tom Friend
July 27, 2015
Chevi Peters
There once was this 90-pound weakling with scars on top of his scars. Liver transplant, kidney transplant, strokes, brain surgery -- you name it, he'd been in the O.R. for it. He always told people he was a jock underneath it all, but at 5-foot-2 with no discernible muscle, nobody ever took him seriously. In his dreams, he was a firefighter, a ladies' man, a halfback, an Adonis. But those dreams couldn't possibly come true, not when he was stiff-legged, the butt of jokes. Odds were that he'd never see the world, that he'd end up right where he started: as a wisp of a man in a mile-long southeast Kansas town.
Chevi Peters tried all his life not to succumb to the hopelessness. Along with bagging ice at the local convenience store, that was his job -- to laugh everything off, to hang in, hang in, hang in. In other words, he had to flip the switch. Even if he felt weak because of his 38 operations or inadequate because of his crooked teeth or melancholy because of his parents' divorce, he decided he could never show it. Flipping the switch meant smiling when he felt lonely or people-pleasing when he felt ostracized. He pulled this off for 20-something years -- a minor miracle -- until, one August night in 2008, he climbed into his car and decided to drive it into oncoming traffic.
THERE ONCE WAS this 300-pound mental health worker who refused to leave his apartment. What a waste of talent. Years before, John Lair had attended his first Special Olympics track meet and found his calling. He was a gentle giant, a former high school nose tackle the children with disabilities instantly flocked to. He was this bear of a man with a surprisingly soothing voice. He would listen to their stories, would be quick with a hug. He knew right away he was perfect for the job of coach.
He shared his hopes and dreams with his best and oldest friend, Chad Oehme, whom he had spoken with every day since kindergarten. Lair told Oehme he wanted to help Special Olympics athletes feel part of the community, and Oehme told Lair he wanted to be a big-city policeman. They were inseparable. They were in their 20s. Their whole lives were ahead of them -- until, in September 2000, Oehme collapsed and died of a heart attack.
Doctors couldn't tell Lair why his friend was dead. Autopsies were inconclusive. Lair went into a tailspin, took a leave of absence from his job at an adult care home. He pulled the shades on his apartment windows and rarely ventured outside. He diagnosed himself with depression. "Loneliest I've ever felt in my life," he says. He wasn't thinking of hurting himself, but he needed a pick-me-up, a change.
He fortuitously landed a job at New Hope Services, a support center for people with intellectual disabilities in his hometown of Pittsburg, Kansas. The director asked him to start a Special Olympics program from scratch -- right up his alley. His dream was coming true, yet he still felt a void in his life. Something was missing -- until, one August night in 2008, he climbed into his car to stop Chevi Peters from killing himself.
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