TammyThomas

Ethics In Sports

Tammy Thomas, The Resilient Cyclist, A Peaceful Life – Part 4

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October 30, 2015

Hello, and welcome back to my blog!

What have you done to feed your mind today? I hope you’ve found a way to feed yourself positive thoughts. Personally, I find that on days I speak positive thoughts to myself as soon as I wake up (especially when all circumstances in my life indicate doom) I perform better throughout those days than on days I don’t. I know, common sense, but how many of us actually take the time to do this? Find a Bible verse, affirmation, whatever it is, and take a whopping 60 seconds out of your day tomorrow to really let it sink in. Leave a comment below and let me know your results.

Now, on to the goods. As promised, today is the final post on The Resilient Cyclist, Chapter 2, A Peaceful Life. If you missed the first three parts of this chapter, you can pick them up here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

A Peaceful Life – Part 4

by Tammy Thomas

But life wasn’t all about chores and family responsibilities. My official sports career took off in the summer of 1979, when I played city-league softball for the Chargers. On game days, I dressed in a red shirt, red hat, and white shorts. I chewed green bubble gum. I was one of the smaller kids on the team, just a scrawny nine-year-old, but I was fearless and determined. I hit well into the outfield. I stole bases. And, no matter where I was in the outfield, I ran to catch the ball—and usually succeeded. We won most of our games, but the best part was the reward of riding in the back of a pickup truck to the 7-Eleven for ice-cold Frosties afterwards.

Track and field entered the sports scene in junior high. The varsity track coach recognized my talent and asked me to run sprints, relays, and long jump as an eighth grader. I was fourteen when I qualified to enter both the long jump and the 200-yard run at the varsity state championships that year, but my insistence on eating a large ice cream cone one hour prior to the final event doomed my performance. As my stomach churned in disagreement while I prepared for and finally competed in the race, I finished dead last—eighth.

In basketball, I made the starting team on varsity my first year. I possessed quick hands for steals and was fast in running to the opposite end of the court. A scrapper, I often found myself on the hardwood court chasing loose balls. I finished second in a free-throw competition at the University of Mississippi’s basketball camp and earned the attention of famed coach Van Chancellor.

While at Ole Miss, Van led his team to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight four times, was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Coach of the Year three times and once was named the National Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year. He later served as head coach for the WNBA’s Houston Comets and also recorded a 38-0 record in international competition as head coach of USA Basketball’s national team. He was eventually inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. That’s how good he was. And with his interest in me, I had hopes of obtaining a basketball scholarship for college.

Van had a completely positive effect on my life. He was the epitome of what a great coach should be, and I remember being in awe of him—it was the first time I had been around a real coach, and I always had the sense that he was just a good guy. I never heard a bad word said against him. It was a complete contrast to the kinds of relationships I would have with my coaches during my cycling career.

A late-season anterior-cruciate ligament injury in tenth grade landed me on crutches and had me benched for the remainder of my high school basketball career. Despite warnings from my coach and my mother, and the lack of lateral movement needed for shuffling, sidestepping, and cutting, I still practiced with the basketball team while wearing a bulky knee brace. In track and field, my career as a long-jumper was over, but I was able to compete with the track team, although I ran with a slight limp and at a slower speed.

In those days of my youth, life was peaceful. I was a tomboy who became a goodie two-shoes southern Baptist church-goer. But, the further I moved away from the things that kept me grounded—friends, family, faith—later in life, the more uncontrollable and unpredictable life became.

………………………………….

Thanks again for reading. Don’t forget to meditate on a positive thought early in your day tomorrow and let me know if it impacts the rest of your day.

 

Disclaimer:

I will tell you an emotionally true story in a skillful way. I will make it worth your while, and while my memory is imperfect, I haven’t invented memories. I haven’t invented facts. If I compress timelines, combine characters or conflate events, I will tell you. I have tried to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. In order to maintain their anonymity in some instances, I have changed the names of individuals and places. I may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations, places of residence, and others. The other people in my book might tell the story differently; this is my own, true version.

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