For the Love of the Game: Guest Post by Jeremy Macauley

The price of admission is high:

My knee injury has left me sidelined since the Arizona game of 2014. The doctor told me that there was a 30% chance I would never play football again. If you’re in athletics of any sort you know 30% chance of anything is extremely high. I was worried and felt as if my heart was going to be broken.

Nevada's Jeremy Macauley (72) is carted off the field after a play against San Jose State during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/ Cathleen Allison).

Nevada’s Jeremy Macauley (72) is carted off the field after knee injury.

Besides all the psychological instability that was occurring surrounding my knee, I needed to figure out what I was going to do when I eventually could not play ball any longer. Nothing came to mind. I have been playing football for 14 years. Two thirds of my life dedicated to a discipline that has left me with a broken body. I was scared. I responded the only way I could; I  studied my ass off and starting prepping for plan B in case football was done.

6 months out from surgery I wasn’t where I wanted to be health wise and I was looking for a way out.

Then spring ball started and I was extremely happy to just be out on the practice field. Although, I probably shouldn’t have been. I was not ready and every day the film showed it. To be blunt, it sucked. The gradual decline into a quitters’ mindset began.

Summer training began and I finally could back squat. I got that high of just being somewhat an athlete again. But, every day leg hurt more and more and I knew my time was running out. I was giving in and if you know me that is not my personality. I have not, will not ever quit but, football was killing me physically, mentality, emotionally, and spiritually. I needed something to get me full circle, back to the basics.

Three weeks ago my little brother Jase started his first football practice. Usually in my family dad is in charge of taking us to football practice but, he was out of town and mom was working late so the responsibilities fell on me. Naturally I was excited to take Jase to practice because those were my the best times. Competitive but, fun no matter win or lose and oddly enough I remember more about those SYFL practices at Sparks Middle School than games. I remember more about high school

Sep 5, 2014; Reno, NV, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack running back Don Jackson (6) celebrates his second half touchdown with guard Jeremy Macauley (72) in the second half of their NCAA football game with the Washington State Cougars at MacKay Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports. Nevada won 24-13.

Sep 5, 2014; Reno, NV, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack running back Don Jackson (6) celebrates his second half touchdown with guard Jeremy Macauley (72).

practice with Kyle Danielson than any game including state. And oddly enough Jase’s practice field is the same one I practiced on for high school. More on that in a second.

On our way there I tell Jase that there will be a point during a practice where you will cry and feel like you want to quit but, you can do it and after nothing will be as tough. He asked if that happened to me and I told him my story of how Coach Sally was screaming at me while I was bear crawling my 7 year old, 150 lbs. crying ass across the field. I can still hear his voice telling me, “Jeremy you can do it your almost there, then it will be over and nothing will be as tough”. And it was true, that moment broke me and he was there to build me up.

As we walked through the entrance of Reed High football stadium everything that I had ever done in this sport flashed in my mind. That tingling sensation ran down my back. I thought of all teammates past and present and I could not help but smile. And I was so happy to watch Jase start his journey down a path that makes boys into men. Men who will fight for each other, teach you things about yourself that will frighten you and will embrace a very animalistic side of yourself.

Football has been killing me for some time now but, all those moments that flashed in my mind was the paramount of what I have been striving for – greatness – to be remembered in this game, to win the big one. Coach Sally’s screaming encouragement in my mind makes my knee seem insignificant. I am better than what I was before and I see that now. I have adapted and grown and that mental instability that was used as a channel of depression and anxiety has been turned into a crazed animal that will kill for his brothers. An animal who just wants to play ball and have fun the way the game was meant to be played.

Jeremy

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I Should be Calling You Coach

Last Thursday something incredible happened. For the first time in my coaching career I felt the players pushing me to bring more energy and be better.

As anyone with teenagers knows, most of the time we have to push them – sometimes endlessly – to get them to do what we want them to do. They are eating and sleeping machines and outside of that narrow spectrum it can be difficult to get them to perform. It’s kind of like herding cats.

Getting teenagers to wake up early and bring energy, intensity and focus to practice is no different. They are stubborn and tired and to be frank – a complete pain in the ass.

But not this time.

The usual challenge of bringing not only enough energy to practice for myself, but for 15 other guys was reversed. They brought it. They were locked in and focused like I had never seen before. As I walked into the weight room that morning one of the players said, “you look tired coach!” Which was a fatal flaw. I am always riding players about not displaying fatigue. I have a general rule of thumb: practice what you preach.

The way these kids lift is frightening. We have an army of overgrown teenagers that you couldn’t pay me to pick a fight with and they love to work hard. They have truly developed an attitude as a team of hard work and they feed off of each others energy. They police themselves. I knew they were good, but last week I realized just how good. Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 6.19.26 PM

As coaches we try to foster focus, commitment and consistency. Focus and commitment are easy. None of us would be there if we didn’t have those two down, but consistency is the master of good character and success. If you want to be successful at anything in life – family, relationships, your job – you have to bring the same thing every day; regardless of the circumstance.

And to paraphrase J.J. Watt; Consistency isn’t owned. It is leased and rent is due everyday.

As practice wrapped up and the energy of my players for the first time not only made me better, it had me absolutely high on life and I realized something – these guys teach me as much, or more, than I teach them.

They have bought in. They trust me. They have and will follow me regardless of the outcome and even without realizing it, they give me energy, hope and make me want to be better.

I really should be calling them coach.

Shane

Responsibly Irresponsible

Family 

Today hiked Mt. Rose with my family (well part of my family). There were hundreds of things that I should have been doing today. Laundry, work, homework, preparing for work tomorrow, resting for the long week ahead… But, I hiked Mt. Rose, because sometimes we have to do something seemingly irresponsible and irrespective of time because it’s the right thing to do.

Yes, I am advocating for responsible irresponsibility.

I like to call it balance. And balance isn’t perfect or pretty. If you’re like me, your life could only be managed by ten, otherwise completely unemployed, highly caffeinated individuals. However, there is just me. I’m not complaining. I love everything I do even though at times it can be exhausting and I do get stretched too thin. When my schedule gets exceedingly tight the basics that I sometimes take for granted get sacrificed. Family and free time. This is where the power of choosing comes in.

I could do more than I already do. I could take on more at work, I could do better in school, I could spend more time watching film and prepping for practice. I could do all of these things and find a way to make it work, but I chose not to. Not because I don’t want to spend more time at work being a better employee or giving my players an extra advantage by watching film, but simply because in order for me to be the best at all of these things I have to be the best me I can be. To do that I have to take care of myself.

Taking care of yourself is something that many of us look past, especially when life gets crazy. I am a super competitive person and often times I find myself competing with myself. I can do more. I can work harder. I can do better. While this attitude has served me well in many aspects of life, it is also dangerous. I have a difficult time relaxing. I’m a little high strung at times you could say. I live and die by a schedule. If it isn’t on the schedule, it ins’t getting done. Which is why I have to schedule fun and relaxing.

There is never a good time to take time off. There is never a good time to push off work to do something fun. There will always be something seemingly more important to do, but there is never anything that important. If you can’t take time to do the important things like take a hike with your (adorable) parents and your aunt and uncle you need to reevaluate. I am all for pushing yourself to the limit, but there does need to be limits and sometimes you need to break the rules.

Take a sick day and go to the lake. Skip a homework assignment (just one). Do something (healthy) in place of what your adult self is telling you, you should be doing. Live a little.

Be responsibly irresponsible.

Shane.

An Open Letter to Parents of Football Players

It’s 11 a.m. and your stinky, sweaty teen just got back from football practice. He walks in the door, throws down his shoes and dirty laundry on the floor, grabs a snack and heads up stairs to play video games for hours on end… At least that’s what I did.

Now if you are the owner of this mongrel, you might be upset. No one should have to pick up that disgusting, sweaty gear and shoes and playing video games is a waste of time, right? WRONG. While the laundry etiquette could use some work I grant you, I am here to tell you to embrace your hormonal teens desire to play video games and here’s why –

They need to rest after practice and getting off of their feet and out of the sun is a must.

I can assure you that when they leave practice in the morning they are more than well worked. Sure, give tUFQFNWHHSAPXKTW_20130824165625hem a few summer chores to keep them busy and the homestead running, but don’t encourage them to get outside with friends. They play football; I assure they already socialize enough and spend more than sufficient time in the sun to satisfy their vitamin B needs. There is a reason College Football locker rooms (check out the best college football locker rooms) are equipped with an Xbox and it isn’t just because they look cool on recruiting trips.

There are a few things other than allowing the evil video games to suck life from their brains to ensure that your little (or big) football player keeps on playing. I know I have taken a humorous tone here, but all joking aside this is serious. Major injury and even death occurs many times before a player even steps on the field. Malnutrition, dehydration and exhaustion are things that an athlete defeats before they get to practice and after they leave.

There have been many cases of football players across the country in recent years suffering from heat strokes or even death during the summer months. Blame gets directed towards the coaches of these players, but often coaches are not the only ones at fault.

If you want to help us coaches ensure your players safety, make sure they are eating right, hydrating and resting when they get home.

Here are some helpful tips –

  • Drink lots of decaffeinated fluids!
    • Caffeine is diuretic and dehydrates your cells so coffee and soda are out!
  •  You need salt in your diet!
    • Too much water and not enough salt will have the opposite effect that you are looking for.
    • Salt and Vinegar chips were my personal favorite for this 🙂
  • Gatorade = Good, but too much Gatorade = Bad.
    • Don’t just drink Gatorade. No one needs that much sugar.
  • Carbo-load baby!
    • Please don’t put your athlete in training on a gluten free diet.
  • Avoid fast food
    • Self explanatory. Your body can’t do good things with bad foods.
  • Fruits – eat ’em.
  • Meats – eat lots of ’em.
    • Beef, chicken, pork. It doesn’t matter. Protein is key.

And one of the most important things –

  • DON’T let your son or daughter replace a meal with a protein shake or other supplement.

They are called supplements for a reason, they supplement your diet. There is not one supplement on the market that can provide your body with the same level and quality of nutrients as food! You can check out the medical research behind these tips here. Remember – you can’t outwork a bad diet.

So work on the laundry issue moms and dads, but lay off them on the video games. Coaches orders.

Shane

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Running from Anxiety

I am cringing just thinking about writing this. This is not something I have ever wanted to share with the world, but I think there is an important message in here.

In February of this year I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. It is a form of an anxiety disorder and it had a serious impact on my life. My disorder is caused by a simple chemical imbalance in my brain – I do not naturally produce enough Serotonin. When your body can’t produce enough of this particular chemical it can lead to severe anxiety.

If you have never experienced a panic attack there is nothing worse in the world. I have had my large share of medical issues (mostly football related surgeries) and this one tops the list – by far. I remember in that first month and a half or so of being diagnosed. I was beyond miserable. I couldn’t stop shaking even when I wasn’t having a panic attack – which was 3 or 4 timeTEDx unr pics a day.

I started my medication, but because my medication was not something like valium that takes an immediate effect and is a medication that helps build my Serotonin to natural levels over time, it took awhile. In the meantime I had to struggle. And struggle I did. I was sleeping for only 2 or 3 hours for weeks on end. My appetite was non-existent.

This picture was taken in January at the TEDx UniversityofNevada event. It has a lot of sentimental value for me – it was the first time I had ever met a Grammy nominated recording artist and Jennifer Knapp is the coolest person ever, but I couldn’t help but notice how rough I look. At the time I had just started having the anxiety problems and as my grandfather would say, I looked like I had been “beat with an ugly stick and drug through the knot-hole backwards.”

I thought about burying this picture for the rest of my life when I came across it again a few weeks ago, but then I thought about what the picture really meant. Yes, I look like hell, but it is a reminder for me about how far I’ve come and how important it is for me to continue to take care of myself.

It was funny when this all started one morning the panic attack from hell hit and I was sitting on my bathroom floor trying to get ready to go to work. My mother – bless her heart – sat with me and tried to help me calm down and I said to her, “I don’t know why they call this a mental disorder.” It is a completely physical discomfort and pain. Mentally, you know that there is no reason you should be feeling like you are about to march into war and certain death, but physically you simply cannot control yourself.

One of the things that my doctor recommended in the interim was exercise. It was hard to focus on anything let alone physical activity. But, that is where I found my salvation. Running worked. Finally my heart rate matched my level of activity and I just started running and running and running from anxiety.

It was the only activity that made me feel human. Some days I would wake up and run four miles and go to work and school and then come back home and run again. While I don’t run as much anymore, I still exercise daily. My physical activity is what keeps me mentally in check. Millions and millions of Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, who knows, you might be one of them or you might not, but my point here is this. Find some physical activity that you enjoy doing and make it routine.

It will have a wonderful effect on your life, anxiety or not.

Shane

I Don’t Want to Blog Today

I don’t want to blog today. I am tired, angry, upset and distracted, but that doesn’t matter because I have a commitment to fulfill.

Enter perseverance – a fitting topic for my particular mood.

If there is one thing that I have learned about being an adult it is this: sometimes you have to do shit you just don’t want to do. It is not the romantic image that we had as kids growing up.  Growing up used to be, “Man, I can’t wait ’till I’m a grown up, and I can do whatever I want to do.”  Now don’t get me wrong.  That is something I do try to live by, but sometimes reality gets in the way.  It is eight o’clock on a Sunday evening, and instead of enjoying a cold one and hanging out with the family to decompress after a trying day, I have to refocus on something that is – at the moment – a dreadful task.

Normally when I blog I am feeling inspired.  An everyday life event has me ready to go and share with the world how awesome, something seemingly not very awesome, really is.  Not today.  Today sucks.  If I had no discretion, I would share a story about how unfair my current situation is, or about how the world went out of its way to cause me harm, but I will not. Because again, like so many other days I am actually inspired.

Today I am inspired by perseverance.

Perseverance to me used to be reactionary.  Something bad happens, and you learn to deal with it in the most positive way you can.  But, at Boise I learned a different way to look at perseverance – true perseverance is proactive.

Coach Petersen would carry a yellow flag in his back pocket during team segments of practice.  He had this routine of throwing it when the offense was on a great drive against the defense, or vise-verse.  It was annoying to say the least.  You see in college football you really have two different teams – an offense and a defense, and they don’t like each other.  Why should they?  Each is competing to be the talk of the team.  Is it a shut down defense or a power-house offense that  earns the credit for the teams success? https://i2.wp.com/www.aspectsofentertainment.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/steve-jobs-perseverance-quotes-e1367773016594.jpg

Naturally, every time the two met during practice it was an outright war.  Often, to up the stakes, the O and D would compete for extra conditioning.  Offense scores, defense conditions and visa-verse. Only Coach Pete had something else up his sleeve (or in his pocket).  The yellow flag of doom. Touchdown! Just kidding, holding and a ten yard penalty with a loss of down.  Most of the time I feel like he would throw the flag without actually seeing a penalty, but he had a philosophy. Prepare yourself to persevere.

In his pregame talks, he would often joke of a time the team was headed to the Fiesta Bowl, and one of the buses broke down.  A game day nightmare for most, but one of the senior players stood up and said, “Is this all you got?”

Questioning the football/perseverance gods to challenge them with more. A simple story really, but an incredible life lesson built in.  Perseverance is not reactive, it’s proactive.  It is not a pessimistic approach on life, but a prepared approach. Murphy’s Law if you will.

Perseverance, like anything in life, takes practice.  So today, even though I don’t want to blog, I blogged.  I didn’t just scrape something together last minute. I was the kid on the bus who said, “Is this all you got?”

Shane

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What the Hell is Water?

This is water.

Today was the day from hell. An onslaught of all of the annoying things life can throw at you, but then something happened and I remembered, this is water.

Enter David Foster.

David Foster gave the greatest commencement speech of all time. I promise you, if there is anything you have ever taken from my blog, this is it. So what is water? It is hard to summarize such an incredible idea as Foster proposed, but I will try given my day today.

I get to 7-Eleven today at 6:40 this morning (I need coffee). The store is packed. The checkout-line is bending up an aisle all the way to the back of the store and of course there is only one register open. I needed to be at football in 5 mins.  this-is-water

I left football and went to work, where I had to do my least favorite part of my job. After that I saw something wrong with my bank account; I’m in the whole $167 on fraud charges and have negative money. I spent an hour on the phone, that I can’t charge to work, trying to sort out the mess and didn’t get anywhere. I left work and was late for class – my last absence until I fail the class. What a mess!

But I was operating on my default setting. That the world should react to my immediate needs. The truth is, is that I will survive regardless of my obvious frustrations. I have some food at home and the charges to my account will be reversed.

We often get caught up in the day to day frustrations. It is hard not to. When things are going well, the petty frustrations of life pile up to, what seems to be, an insurmountable mess of crap. We’re tired, we’re hungry, we’re stressed.

But what a feeling to have!

There are so many people who pray for a normal day like this. That the biggest concern they have is a nonexistent budget for a few days. It is hard to imagine that a day wasted on bureaucratic frustration and petty theft is one to behold, but the truth is, is that it is part of the dream. This is the human experience. At times, it is monotonous, it is messy, boring, frustrating, crowded and unfair.

All of these things are undeniably true. But, if you find yourself in one of these never-ending moments (and I promise you they will never end), and are as Dr. Foster once said, “aware enough to give yourself a choice” you will find a certain “awe” in these moments. As a child of god (any god) you were given the greatest gift anyone could give you – the power of choice.

Sometimes we have to find one thing, no matter how small, to hang on to to make a day meaningful and worthwhile. So today, although I am tired and there would be a better time and I have no money, I am going to have coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. So today is a good day because out of all the days I will have; there aren’t many days like today. And as an embracer of the human experience – good and bad – I want to experience them all.

This isn’t an easy thought process to adopt and at times I fail miserably, but for the days I do think like this they change for the better.

Shane

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