February 11, 2014

Mental Toughness

I often talk with Coach Kate one-on-one and she always has a lot of insight to offer me, whether it’s athletic or academic. One of the very first conversations I had with her was when I attended Stanford summer camp, before I decided if I actually wanted to attend Stanford. I asked Coach Kate what I would need to do in order to be successful at Stanford. I expected a tangible answer like, “Learn to do this dribble move, get up hundreds of shots each day, or study for X amount of hours each night,” but instead she gave me something so much more valuable. She told me that my success at Stanford would be contingent upon how well I dealt with adversity.

As Stanford student-athletes, we sometimes get lost in the seemingly never-ending routine of rigorous practices, strenuous academics, and highly competitive games. In my short amount of time at Stanford thus far, I, and most of my teammates, have dealt with many different types of adversity. Some of us have had injuries, most of us have had bad days at practice, and sometimes some of us don’t do as well as we would like on exams.

Add to that the other stressors that lie outside of the student athlete “bubble” and our challenges are even more impactful. Challenges that all 18-21-year-old college students go through, like arguing with your best friend, feeling homesick, or struggling to find a social niche. Most of us have learned that it’s not the adversity we encounter that matters, it’s how we respond to it that helps us grow.

Being mentally tough as a student-athlete means learning to give yourself positive “self-talk,” staying poised and focused under pressure, and always realizing that everything we experience is a necessary part of the learning process as we strive to achieve our goals.

This season has not been easy for any of us. We’ve had self-doubts and stumbling blocks, unexpected losses and unforeseen challenges, and many other normal issues to contend with as well. But this is a mentally tough team. We believe in ourselves. We understand that we are on this journey together, and that we all have the same goal in sight.

Together, we are building a strong foundation of mental toughness, team unity, and all-around grit that makes Stanford Womens Basketball a sisterhood and an amazingly courageous unit. As our team leader and fierce motivator Chiney likes to say, “We’re not the ‘Nice Girls’ from Stanford anymore!”


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