Training at the Olympic Training Center has numerous advantages that go far beyond the cool photo ops you see displayed in the previous post. We are provided with a team of people to help us be our best, all at no cost to us. If there was a cost to me, most of these benefits would probably be things I would have to do without, but that’s why I train here and why I am extremely blessed to be able to do so. There is literally a team of people all working extremely hard to afford me the ability to do my best, by giving their best. Out of all of the people and resources I have available to me… from coaching, to strength training, to a medical staff, to a nutritionist, down to a driver when I need to go to the airport, by far the most valuable and useful to me over the last three years I have been here has been my Sports Psychologist. Hands Down. No questions asked.
In fact, last year I wrote a post specifically about the invaluable help I had found in Dr. Ross Flowers in a post I aptly titled Head Help. Take a second to read it if you don’t remember, but the gist of it was how I had come to learn that the mental side of training is so important, and I truly believe it makes all the difference in the world. It is a process though, not only realizing the value of working on this aspect of your preparation, but also the trust and confidence that develops in the relationship you build with your Sports Psychologist over time. For me, this was huge. In the three years I have been training at the OTC I’ve had the initial coach I moved down there to work with, to working with nobody at all, to this last year beginning work with a new coach that was a bit of a struggle for me. But through all those changes, I had the one constant in my support team that helped me manage any situation and continued to work towards helping me become the athlete I want to be. That constant was Dr. Ross.
So, imagine my shock when last week we were told by the USOC that Dr. Ross would no longer be a part of our team at the Olympic Training Center, effective immediately. In his place, they were happy to give us the number to a guy that lives across the country that would be willing to talk with us. And that was it.
I don’t know the story behind all of this, and it’s probably not my business to know. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t pay the salary of the team that supports me. But what I do know is that at the beginning of training for the 2012 Olympic Season, I have lost what I believe to be an integral part of my support, and that saddens me tremendously. I have said this many times before, but it bears repeating here– what matters most at this stage of competition is the strength you have between your ears. I learned that quite convincingly the year I jumped well and had NO coach, mostly because I had Ross helping me figuring out how to be the athlete I already am. Does everybody need this type of help? Maybe not, but I know that I do and I’m happy to admit it. So with all the work that I planned on doing this year technically improving myself, I knew that I would spend just as much energy continuing to improve on the part that I believe makes the most difference. I’ll still have to do that, but without the help of my team. It’s unfortunate.
**photo from U.S. nationals in 2009