Jackie Brown, a senior forward on the Adelphi field hockey team, has drawn strength from her MOM mindset - a term that has a double meaning for her. Through health struggles, she has relied on MOM to help her persevere. This is her Sideline Story:
No matter the sport, the season, or the school, all college athletes share 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 similar, as it is a way for us to focus on our mindset and 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. MOM is more than three letters and it is more than a pre-game ritual, though.
Having a double meaning, MOM is also a special shoutout to my own mother who taught me the incredible power of mind over matter firsthand as she battled and conquered breast cancer when I was younger.
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. 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.
This past season for Adelphi field hockey proved to be a trying one as we were constantly faced with what seemed like challenge after challenge. We had multiple injuries to starting players, including at one point our only goalie on the roster. We had a defender step up in a big way for our team as she assumed the role of goalie for a few games, even though she had never put on the gear before.
We had two walk-on players, one who hadn’t picked up her stick in over four years and one player who was introduced to the sport for the very first time.
Then there was me, who was experiencing concerning symptoms and couldn’t give an answer as to why I was no longer able to run or perform at the level that I was used to without fear of passing out due to a very elevated heart rate, simply because I did not have the answer myself.
However, most people may not even realize that we faced so many challenges this past year because of just how much we persevered. We were able to adjust our mindsets and focus on how to still succeed despite these overwhelming circumstances because we personified MIND OVER MATTER.
We pushed through all of these obstacles and came together as a team. We supported each other through our injuries and motivated one another to focus not only on our own healing, but also on how we were able to still contribute to the team in whatever way possible. Through our resilience, we were able to have a historic season for Adelphi field hockey and break longstanding program records.
Some of our accomplishments included our highest national ranking at sixth in the country, a 10-game win streak including nine shutouts, a postseason appearance and many postseason awards, ranging from All-Conference to All-American and many in between - none of which would have been possible without MOM.
The successes of this past season and the opportunity to reflect on just how much we as a team, and I personally, have overcome is not lost on me. However, make no mistake; mind over matter is not always easy. It is a decision to actively face your challenges head on, no matter how difficult they may be.
I have felt firsthand the frustration that an injury can cause, and how much strength is needed to persevere. The undiagnosed symptoms causing an elevated heart rate this past season is unfortunately not a new challenge for me.
I first exhibited symptoms during the first game of the season my sophomore year and then it continued to happen any time I exercised. It could be when I was sprinting on the field or even lifting in the weight room. These symptoms included seeing black dots, getting light-headed and dizzy, having sharp chest pains, shortness of breath, and fainting.
The culmination of these symptoms inevitably 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 that I had to go through just to find an answer as to why these symptoms persisted.
Test after test they still could not pinpoint what was causing these episodes. Now almost two years later 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.
Quite honestly, this frustration had me at times considering giving up the game that I love so much in order to focus on my health. I couldn’t understand why something that I love doing could be harming me at the same time.
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 the incredible support system I have. 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.
When you are a college-level athlete, you are used to setting high standards and goals for yourself. What I know from this 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 these 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 the mindset of mind over matter.
I know that I would not be the athlete and person I am today without it.
- Jackie Brown