New Dreams start from “Love”

I’m in my mid-20s and never been an athlete.

Despite both of those facts, just Monday (8/6/12) I made an announcement:  I am going to begin playing competitive tennis around mid-2013-2014.

The Back Story

My desire to compete in tennis dates back a decade, to when I was a freshman in high school at Francis Howell Central.  I decided that in my sophomore year I wanted to play one of three sports: tennis, soccer, or volleyball.  Then I moved.  Unfortunately, Ste. Genevieve Senior High didn’t offer any of those sports, leaving me to focus my energies on non-athletic extracurriculars.

When I began college, I’d entertained the idea of playing tennis but thought, “I can’t possibly do this, the people I’ll be playing against have probably been playing their whole lives.”  So again, opportunity fled and my attentions turned to a Bachelor’s degree and acting, theater, and film (all things I love).

After graduating from Webster, I began rebuilding my suffering social life.  During this time, I got my first feel for tennis.  My good friend Kacie and I started playing against one another recreationally (translation: no rules!) before we began incorporating rules and more people (my brother, Josh, who was an all-around athlete his entire life and his girlfriend Lauren).  In 2010, I finished the season with a 50% win record (of 22 matches I won 11, lost 10, tied 1 – even though ties don’t happen, one did, pre-rules!), but recreational tennis is far different from what I’m hoping to achieve.

In the academic world, I’ve done it all with varying degrees of success.  I’ve earned two college degrees, averaged an A (3.9) for my Bachelors, earned a 4.0 in my first semester of Grad school (still more of that to come!), and won some awards along the way.  As a thespian, I’ve acted on the stage, was awarded a theater scholarship, and wrote and directed my own [small] show.  I’ve made some short films, penned film reviews, and wrote a lengthy film-based analytical thesis.  But there’s one thing I haven’t done and that’s try to be an athlete.

Mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling

The Final Inspiration

My brother always enjoyed the success of athletics in comparison to my academics, but this year, my brother claimed an academic record by winning the Skills USA competition in Automotive Service Technology.  His academic accomplishment inspired me to want to achieve something I’ve never achieved before, an athletic record or victory.

The final inspiration came during the Murray/Federer Olympic gold-medal match.  The match captivated me – I couldn’t turn it off and refused to leave (for work) before its conclusion (I was late!).  Something inside me clicked and I realized I’d had this burning desire to compete in this sport – that in order for me to not have this regret later in life, it’s something I need to do – for myself.  This match in particular resonated with me, causing me to think, “There’s a void in my life – something I haven’t done, something I haven’t succeeded at – and that something is as an athlete in a competitive sport – a sport I’ve always wanted to play, but not just play, to be great at. To win.”

That’s why I’ve poured a lot of thought into this decision and am ready to condition, train, and prove that this is one worth making.  Maybe I’m a dreamer, but when I’m under pressure to deliver I tend to deliver my greatest achievements.  I hope this will be one of them.

The Reception

Most of the reception to my announcement has been supportive.  Though, there are the occasional naysayers who say, “you’re too old to start,” and “you’ll be competing with people who’ve been playing their whole lives.”  Some think I’ll get where I want to go, others have questioned my ability to do so, saying I’ll likely max out in local tournaments and never make it beyond that point.  So far I’ve heard it all – and I guess this is where desire, passion, and commitment begin.

The Plan

For the remainder of the year:

– Condition (cardio, cardio, cardio) and Strength Train

– Yoga (daily)

– Tennis Instruction (classes/coaching)

– Enter my first tournament in 2013/2014 and move up the rankings from there.

There you have it, announcement, intentions, back story, and plan.  I’m confident in my abilities and feel I have at least a 6-8 year competitive run in this body of mine.  I’ll keep you all posted here! Coming along for the journey?

-Bobby-james

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