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An Athlete’s Struggle To Connect and Learning To Change

Date Posted April 03 2016

Written by:  Coach Shane Lynch

When I was a kid my family moved from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia.  I had no friends, no connections.  I participated in Taekwon-Do as a blue belt at that point.

I remember going to Taekwon-Do for the first time in Nova Scotia.  I was very nervous.  I didn't know how to fit into the new culture, I was shy, having a hard time adjusting to the coaches style but I respected him a lot.  I noticed there were a group of individuals who were preparing for a competition and another group preparing for their black belt testing.

I wanted to be part of those groups, the groups that were serious about training, they seemed like friends and had a special relationship with the instructor.  I noticed that the ones in those group were also the hardest working athletes.  I thought that was the trick to getting in. 

I worked my ass off to get my black belt.  I still wasn't part of the groups... I worked even harder and made it to the national team... I still didn't get his attention.  I trained alone and participated in three World Championships before I developed the courage to ask him why he never really dedicated any extra time to my training or invited me to special events.  

His answer:  "You never asked."

I was pissed off for a long time about that response.  I was bitter that I showed up every day and worked harder than everyone and I still didn't garner any extra attention, although I felt I needed it. 

We spoke again years later about it.  He truly believed and now I realize that if I didn't have that fuel I may not have trained that hard.  More importantly, now, as a CrossFit coach I'm realizing that he had those close relationships with some athletes and dedicated time to those people because they invested time in a "relationship" by communicating and sharing their feelings about training and what their needs were.  Those athletes didn't wait for it to happen.  For him to one day pay more attention to them.

I would suggest that if you feel you are left out at all at Rocky Lake CrossFit please, bring it up to me.  I'm very understanding.  While I don't try to focus on specific people, I'm human and I'm drawn to people who open up and share their feelings and struggles with me.  If you don't share that with your coach he/she doesn't know.  Coaches aren't mind readers and when their are 150+ people training, it is hard to focus on everyone.

The one major difference between myself and my Taekwon-Do instructor is that I try to identify these scenarios because I know I suffered for years, feeling like the coach I cared about so much, didn't care about me.  I don't want people to feel I only focus on a select few performers.  I focus on whoever needs me most and expresses it to me. 

Every culture has a right of passage, a way of becoming part of it and engaging with people on a level more involved than an outsider.  Sometimes you need to put in the time, sometimes the work and sometimes it's as simple as gathering the courage to step out of your comfort zone and have a crucial conversation.  

The environment isn't going to change for you.  You need to change your approach and perspective.  Change the things you can.

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