Sometimes after a game or tournament I ask my players questions about what they think we did well or what they think we can do better as a team. I like asking because I find their responses interesting and sometimes as a coach I can learn from them as well. They might see something I didn’t see or confirm that we do have similar thoughts of areas to work on. When they are a certain age I have witnessed them repeating the answer someone else gave and pretty soon we have gone through the whole group and all I have heard is the same thing repeated about 12 times. I am not sure whether they fear giving a wrong answer or if this is a way of them fitting in with their teammates. As they mature and pass that point in adolescence unique answers are given again.
When I got thinking about this on my drive home after practice one night I realized this is the reason I really like watching Ronda Rousey the MMA fighter. I am not a big fan of watching UFC I find the sport to be brutal, unforgiving and very aggressive. I find it challenging sitting watching someone pummel someone else for any length of time but this doesn’t mean I don’t respect the process they go through in preparation for their fights. There is no doubt it takes a lot of time, dedication and discipline to be a master of yourself in any capacity and fighters embody that.
After reading Ronda Rousey’s book My Fight/Your Fight I realized there were many concepts I really admired about her.
The number of hours Ronda puts into her training and the coaches that support her in her path to self mastery in the realm of fighting is impressive. She has multiple coaches that work with her each with their own discipline. Ronda first fell in love with judo and eventually won a bronze medal at the Olympics. When you compete at the level she did for such a long time the passion involved is incredible because to be honest the funding for most athletes just really isn’t there in many sports. You have to do it because you love it. Ronda has said:
“Achieving greatness is a long and arduous battle that I fight every day. Fighting is how I succeed. I don’t just mean inside a 750-square foot cage or within the confines of a 64-square meter mat. Life is a fight from the minute you take your first breath to the moment you exhale your last. You have to fight the people who say it can never the be done. You have to fight the institutions that put up the glass ceilings that must be shattered. You have to fight your body when it tells you it is tired. You have to fight systems that are put in place to disrupt you and obstacles that are put in place to discourage you. You have to fight because you can’t count on anyone else fighting for you. And you have to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. To get anything of real value, you have to fight for it. I learned how to fight and how to win. Whatever your obstacles whoever or whatever your adversary, there is a way to victory.”
No matter what when an athlete steps on the court, field, ice or into a cage if they do so with passion their ability to succeed increases exponentially. It makes it fun to watch and really is similar in some cases to striking a match and lighting the fuse. It is very contagious and passion paired with substance is such an exciting thing to see in sports.
Ability to Dig Deep
When Ronda was young her dad who had an accident that severely hurt his back. For years he struggled through it. At one point though he found himself in a position where it was disintegrating and so when she was 8 years old he decided it was the end and he committed suicide. He didn’t want his kids to remember him struggling. When people go through a loss that catastrophic they tend to be able to dig deep and go really far inside themselves to places that others can’t reach since they haven't experienced the same pain. Ronda proves that in her fighting.
Ronda suffered a very public defeat at the hands of Holly Holm and many people questioned her fighting ability after that. Here is what I know for sure is that I don’t want to pay attention to anyone in that position who hasn’t dealt with some form of adversity. Life is full of difficult circumstances and those that have lived a charmed life have nothing to give the rest of us when they just win every fight they have ever been in without much effort. It is in showing people how to get up from the worst circumstances that the strong can teach their best lessons. Living easy is for the people who choose to sit on the sidelines and watch. This just isn’t how life works in reality. When life beats you down you have to find a way to dig deep and rise up again no matter what the circumstances.
Battling Against Conformity
There is no doubt in my mind there is no one quite like Ronda. People take the easy way but it is clear she isn’t one of those people. Being a female fighter there is a negative stigma that can arise because it still isn’t completely socially acceptable for women to participate in these types of events. She embraces it fully as this is who she is. While most women would choose to be the ring girl in a bikini that holds up the round cards she is choosing to be the woman in the cage drawing the crowd. The pressure that comes with being first can be incredibly heavy as well as lonely.
You see women fight for very different reasons than men do and being willing to tap into that side of who you are isn’t an easy thing to handle. Women fight to defend and protect rather than for dominance and territory. It’s hard to be different and to be so completely honest with yourself knowing that you may never have the same life as other women because you aren’t built the way they are. Being that true to who you are deep down no matter what you have uncovered is incredibly challenging and can be unpredictable. It is this difference that opens up the opportunities for others to see hope in taking down their own personal obstacles. It is especially hard to fail in front of people when that is exactly what they want to see. Being different is something to embrace and own rather than to hide and conceal.