Never Give Up.

This blog is my first entry for themotivenation.ca

This website is one that Erin has created to help motivate the world.  It is where she will have monthly features on different ‘motivators’.  She will help tell their stories and share a quote that the live by. Then by those words, she will create many different avenues for their quote to inspire others, and the truth behind why they do that for them.

For example, starting September, she will doing her first feature piece on Benoit Huot who is a 19 time Canadian Para Olympian Medalist and whose quote is “Never Give Up.”

My part in this project, is to take their quote, and help share stories that bring out the power of those words.

So, without further adieu …

NEVER GIVE UP.

As an almost 10 year Professional Athlete aka veteran, I can understand those words. I can understand the weight that comes with them. The tears that come so quickly to the surface as I think of moments where I almost gave up, where I thought there was no way I could possibly keep going.

However, that is not what comes to my mind now.

All I can think of is the last 4 month, as a wife, to a 4 time World Cup participant and 2 time Olympian who has just had her third Olympics taken away from her due to a 3rd ACL.

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A third ACL injury, where she actually played through it to help her team qualify for the Olympics.

Yep, you read it right! Erin McLeod, Canada’s #1 keeper, played through a qualifying tournament without an ACL. Not only the game vs Coast Rica, where they won, but also a Cup Game and ten minutes of a quarter finals match in Champions League.

How do I know this?!

Well as her mother and I sat in the waiting room in Malmo, to hear how her surgery went, the doctor came out to ask us when exactly did she think she tore it? He asked that because the greatest damage of her ACL, that he found,was not from 3 weeks before from the Champions League game. He said the damage would have been from a month or two before, or even a couple months before that. (The CL game was just the final push on her knee)

I won’t even even get into details how she was asked to play with it wrapped up! Yeah I know it sounds nuts, but that could have been an answer to get her through the Olympics, but ultimately that would be (most likely) ending her career.

So, like I said, never give up.

My wife made the decision to do just that.

She chose faith. She chose a path where the pain would be unimaginable, not only from the surgery but all the other thorns that come with it. She chose the decision which would allow her to continue on this crazy journey of chasing her dream. That has so many unknowns, sacrifices, defeats, but also joy, courage, honour, and fight.

So here she is, almost 4 months into her ten month rehab process, and trying to find her way. Trying to find her way while the team she has called her “family,” (for 15 years) is playing in the Olympics. A team, where she has sacrificed everything, to become a medal contender.

The best way I can explain it, from the outside, is like coming up with all the pieces of an app like ‘Twitter’ and then a couple months before you launch it, this million/billion dollar app, you have to take sick leave.

So as you watch, at home, you see the product. The product where you have put everything into it, with your teammates/friends/family, and then what them enjoy all the success.

You hopefully even do feel a part of it, in some way, but the world, and you standing on the podium is a dream you simply have to just let go. A dream that has pushed you through the grueling workouts, the time away from your family, the holidays missed, the birthdays forgotten, etc…

That does not meant that you are not happy to see all the people who have sweated, cried, laughed, and dedicated most of their lives (with you) to succeed. It just means there is no remedy.

There is no answer or words that can be said to make it okay or easier. It is just a pain that you have to find a way to work through, a pain that can be shattering, and humbling all at the same time.

A pain where a wife can only really grab a box of tissues and say; it will be okay …

Now, of course, there are good moments. There are days were we can, she can, understand the journey and power of faith. Where the pain can turn into inspiration and pure grit. Or maybe even better with a new tattoo;p (Moms that was for you ha)

In summary.

Life, as we know it, is a roller coaster. Like any journey and dream is in life. Its about riding the ups with incredible joy and then holding onto those moments as you go through the crippling downs.

I know in my life I have gone through some downward spirals, where I just wanted the day to be over, because I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know and can respect that that is where my wife is now.

Where she is in a place of asking why a lot more than saying thank you. These moments, we can all see in our own lives, and as hard as they are then, if we hold on, it usually turns into the moments we become incredibly grateful for later.

This month, to me, is about finding a way to lift your head when you feel the chains won’t allow you to take one more step. That whether you are an Olympian fighting for your chance on the stand, a veteran fighting to find her way without her sport, or a wife trying to simply be a number one fan.

It’s simple: Never Give Up.

Because if is truly your dream, you will always find a way, to simply lift your head …

1/2 Way There…

I am going to blame this on the jet lag but all I can think about right now is, “half way there, ohhhh oh, living on prayer…” That puts the first half of our season into perspective ha.

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Even though we have been here for 7 months, we are now officially half way, with finishing in November. I think the best way for me to describe me on the pitch so far is this…

“Doubt Me. Hate Me. Rate Me. Shake Me. Break Me. NOW Watch ME.”

That was posted by my friend Ms. Carli Lloyd. Now her and I might be fighting for different things but I think it all comes down to respect, respect for our craft, and something we have dedicated our whole lives too. Granted, she could probably fund my career with her Nike contract alone ha, we have both made sacrifices that only our “inner” circle will ever truly understand.

I say that because a couple weeks ago I was approached by a reporter who said (give or take), “Do you have anything to say to those people who said that you were only picked by Rosengard because you were Erin’s wife?!”

At first, I was angry, then I was proud. I mean my wife must be a pretty big deal for a top 5 team in Europe to sign me to a two year contract just because “I am her wife” and don’t forget that that means year round pay ;p

I get it, I have no ego with admitting my wife is a bigger deal than me, but here is the truth of the matter.

I am 30, I am married, I (now) have a family to help support, and I know that I am worth more than a 3k pay check for 6 months.

And that 3k is before taxes and includes the money needed for paying rent, making my car payment, cell phone, groceries, etc …

I don’t mean that in a way where I am not thankful for being a Pro, but I disagree with the NWSL on how we had NO negotiating rights to our contract. Meaning that when I signed my rookie year I was locked in for as long as ‘they’ saw fit.

Every year it was a one year plus one year with a 5% increase of pay, no matter what. I had no rights to say IF i wanted to leave a team or stay. Oh and don’t forget we only get paid for 6 months but get told what, where, and when we can play for 12.

So let me rephrase. . .

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Malmo needed a defender. So when I came in September for my tryout, that was the position they saw me at. However, after an injury to a forward, I was moved up top and took full advantage of it. (10 goals, 4 assists, in 13 games)

Yes, I was sad to leave Houston, especially when I was so invested in the team and really believed in the girls around me. However, after 6 years Pro in the states, I realized that I would rather try and fail in Europe or simply be just a wife than to play in the states where the NWSL has made a living of making non US players feel unwanted, replaceable, and unstable.

It was simply too much. It was too much for me to be a part of a league where the  US national team players seem to be the ONLY focus. Where 16 players, give or take, on each team get over looked continually when they should be getting incredible praise for keeping the league alive!

Don’t get me wrong. I completly understand how important the national team girls are to the fans, but you can’t use the statement, “they put fans in the seats.”

You can’t say that as you see Portland pull  in 17k plus with not one national team girl on the pitch.

You can’t say that because the clubs choose to focus on them for media coverage compared to the inspirational stories of so many others that stand in front of them.

We all know that maybe 5 of the NT players change crowds by the hundreds… the rest… well lets just say I have been mistaken at least 5 times for Meghan Klingenberg ha. I mean, I’ll take the compliment, but come on, my bangs make up her hair ha. #thickhairmatters

Again, I am not taking away from the US players, because honestly it is not their fault.

They are put there because of the ideology of many of the clubs, when now, with being away, I see that it can be such a different way.

Now I see, how ALL over the world, leagues have been successful having the club be on the same level as national team. Where you have to be there to earn your right, where only international breaks is when the NT girls are gone, and where club training is just as respectable as the national team.

Not because of the price behind it, but because of the women that we call teammates. The women standing shoulder to shoulder,with you, who are getting paid 6k for 6 months but choose to sacrifice everything to have the opportunity to tie up their laces with their name on the back of a Professional jersey…

To so many, that is their dream, and they would do absolutely anything for them to live it.

I mean who wouldn’t?!

I will end with this.

FC Rosengard is by far the most professional club I have ever played for and it has nothing to do with the BIG gestures (ex stadiums) but because of the little ones. It is because they believe in the details a full time Physio who believes its his honour to help us out, who wants to be there and has years of experience, a full time massage therapist, a gym membership, a locker room at our field, our laundry washed, and in an environment where it’s not just about 1 or 2 players, but a roster of 18 who believes in the team first not the name on the back.

It is because we have a coach, an assistant coach, a GM, etc who shows up before us and leaves  way after us. A coach who believes in the group over an individual and takes the time to treat us as the same as the men’s Pro team he coached before.

In summary:

NWSL does matter for the generations to come, but maybe, maybe the little things (gestures, people) will finally start to matter so it CAN be a league that is an honour to play FOR not just with.

Til next time …

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