The Future is in Good Hands: Jackie Brown
No matter the sport, the season, or the school, all college athletes have something in common: we all have our pregame routines.
It can be listening to music, eating a favorite meal, or making sure your lucky piece of equipment or clothing is ready by game time. Regardless of the ritual, the sentiment is the same: it is a way for us to focus our mindset on the task ahead of us.
One thing you can catch me doing before every game is writing the letters “MOM” with a line through it on my wrist. For me, MOM is more than three letters, and it is more than a pre-game ritual.
For me, MOM is a mindset to carry through life: mind over matter.
I started writing MOM on my wrist before every game in my sophomore year at Adelphi University as a reminder that I can push through any obstacle life throws at me and can come out the other side stronger than before.
Even in the toughest battles on the field, I can look down at my wrist and see MOM written there or I can look to the stands and see my own mom, who battled and conquered breast cancer. In either case, the message is still the same: your mindset determines how you can overcome your challenges.
While I actively seek to encompass this quote in every part of my life, especially in my collegiate athletic career, I am proud to see just how much it applies to my team as well.
During the 2019 season, our program faced challenge after challenge. Our starters suffered multiple injuries, including — at one point — our only goalkeeper.
We had two walk-on players, one who hadn’t touched a stick in over four years and one who was introduced to the sport for the very first time.
Then there was me.
I was experiencing concerning symptoms and couldn’t understand why I was no longer able to run or perform at the level that I was used to.
I first exhibited symptoms during the opening game of my sophomore year, and they continued any time I exercised. It could be when I was sprinting on the field or even lifting in the weight room. I saw black dots, got light-headed and dizzy, had sharp chest pains, was short of breath, and even fainted.
These symptoms sent me to the emergency room on more than one occasion as my heart rate would go from resting to over 220 beats-per-minute. I went from doctor to specialist to another specialist and to another. I have lost track of the number of tests and procedures I have undergone in my quest for answers.
Test after test they still could not pinpoint what was causing my symptoms. Now, almost two years since my first episode, I still don’t have an answer.
As an athlete, the word “frustrated” is an understatement when something is holding you back from training and playing your hardest. At times, this frustration made me consider giving up. However, through all of the frustration, confusion, and anger at things that I couldn’t always control, the only thing that kept me motivated was MOM and my incredible support system. My family, my teammates, and my coaches and athletic staff helped me as I navigated a new lifestyle in order to stay healthy and still represent Adelphi athletics on the field.
Part of these safety precautions included changing my position, limiting my playing time, monitoring my heart rate and symptoms, and knowing when to take myself out of practices or drills. It was a creative process to get me back on the field and one that was not always easy.
Despite all of the obstacles — for me and for my team — we achieved our highest national ranking ever, a 10-game winning streak, nine shutouts, a postseason appearance, and a myriad of individual awards. All in all, 2019 was a historic season.
Spectators watching our success from the sideline may not even realize that we faced so many challenges. Through perseverance we were able to adjust our mindsets and focus on how to succeed despite these overwhelming circumstances. We personified “mind over matter.”
When you are a college-level athlete, you are used to setting high standards and goals for yourself. What I know from my own experience and others is that when something gets in the way of you accomplishing your goals, you have a choice: you can either let it get in your way or you can adopt the right MOM mindset and find a way to succeed.
I choose success.
I choose MOM.
I know that I am not alone in my feelings of frustration in the face of obstacles. Many student-athletes deal with their own kind of adversity in one way or another. However, having the right mentality can help us get through these hard times.
So, to my fellow student-athletes: don’t let the obstacles in your life keep you from being your best. Find a way to face these obstacles head on and know that no matter what life throws at you, you can conquer anything with a “mind over matter” mindset.
I know that I would not be the athlete and person I am today without it.
The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) is recognizing student-athletes who are community contributors, agents of change, and campus leaders. The Future is in Good Hands series highlights the exceptionality of field hockey student-athletes for their work on and off the field.
The content for this article was generously provided by Jackie Brown, the Northeast-10 Conference, and Adelphi University Sports Information.