Adversity = Growth

Overcoming adversity…

We hear the phrase all the time, but what does it really mean? My buddy Google would say, “difficulties; misfortune.” Okay, so does that really help us understand? I would say no. Reason being- adversity can mean different things to different people. There are so many stories of people going through horrific accidents or tragedies and overcoming them. That is definitely showing resilience in the face of adversity. However, I would argue something as small as dealing with a difficult teammate or coach could feel like a mountain to the athlete at that moment in time as well.

When was the last time you overcame adversity? What did you do? How did it feel?

I had a coach that I didn’t see eye to eye with. I wasn’t fully aware of it until there was a situation where he put the team and himself above my health and safety. I was recovering from an injury and he was out of options for subs. As I sat at the end of the bench with my sweats on and shoes untied I thought to myself, “well that sucks.” I had no idea what was coming next. “Mandy, warm up!”………excuse me??

I was young and had no idea how to react. So, I tied my shoes and started jogging up and down the side line. As I was stretching my trainer came to me and said, “You don’t have to go in you know. You can say, “No.”” I was terrified, confused, and overwhelmed. Of course I wanted to play but it definitely wasn’t right. By stepping on that field, I would also lose my ability to red shirt the year.

My coach was unapproachable and someone I hardly knew. I took a deep breath and walked over to him. I told him I wouldn’t go in. The look on his face was indescribable- I could see anger, disappointment, and frustration all at once. I was mortified and felt horrible. Larger than knowing I frustrated my new coach, I felt like I had let my teammates down.

After the game a few girls came up to me to tell me they respected what I did and they would have done the same thing. It put me at ease and I knew I did the right thing. Throughout my time with that coach I don’t think our relationship ever recovered. Those years were beyond difficult but I know at the end of the day I did what I had to do. I persevered and continued playing. I also learned to stand up for myself even when it wasn’t the easy option.

In that tiny moment in time, I had no idea what an impact it would have on my personal development. Conflict still makes me uneasy, but I know that even when it isn’t easy I need to stand up for myself and demand the respect I deserve.

Whether it’s on the soccer field, at school, or at work, you deserve to be in a healthy and respectful environment. When faced with adversity of any kind take a deep breath and attack it head on. Be confident- you will do the right thing. No matter how big or small, it also never hurts to use your network to support you. That’s what they are there for. Know that as you are going through any tough time you are also growing and developing into a better person. You got this.

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you — they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. — Bernice Johnson Reagon, musician and activist


Mandy Raff comes to us from Modesto, CA. She grew up playing club soccer in Oregon and played in college for the University of Idaho. She is extremely passionate about helping others achieve their college soccer dreams!