Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do Something Interesting

(photos of sprained wrist, sprained thumb, popped blood vessels, and a double tackle below) 
I love rugby; I think that most of you know this.  I have dedicated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon along with Saturday mornings for practice; most Tuesday and Thursday mornings for weight training; and virtually half of all my weekends to games and traveling during season for the past 4 years to my team.  By very rough calculations, including travel and presidential duties, I estimate that that comes to approximately 1700 hours.  Wow.  Making minimum wage, that comes to over thirteen and a half thousand dollars.  If I had cheap housing, that would have been enough to pay for my tuition and rent for four years of Fall and Winter semesters!  Time is money, after all.  (I guess that’s why most college teams can justify giving their athletes free tuition- they demand a TON of time from them to represent their school.  Although, I really respect Harvard for not letting athletes on their football team who were not academically admitted to the University.  It is only fair that someone getting a free education actually deserves it!  Giving the spot of a hard-working and bright student to some fat meathead who will only pass his classes because of athlete favoritism is not fair and tarnishes the reputation of the degree he will be given without actually being up to par.  Boo to football!  But I digress…)  But that doesn’t matter to me nearly as much as the things I have gained by being a college athlete.


The BYU women’s team is really unique in several ways.  For one, we are all members of the LDS faith and this is manifested in many activities that other teams just do not have.  We pray together before every game and after every practice.  When we are on the road, we have devotionals where we sing a hymn and have a spiritual thought every morning.  We occasionally have team fasts.  We meet up with each other at Stake Conferences and sit together to listen to our church leadership instruct us.  We even invite one another to come to the temple.  We bond together through our common gospel values and this brings us together more than anything.  We see each other at our best, crying with joy and we say a prayer of gratitude after a successful game that means advancing to the quarter finals, and at our worst, stumbling as we attempt to run up the hill near the field for the tenth time with a teammate on our back, or getting taken out of a game, dazed, with a new concussion.  We experience everything together and see each other nearly everyday.  It is obvious why I miss them so much.


We also are not a sponsored Varsity team.  Meaning, we don’t get University funding.  No scholarships.  No monthly discretionary funds like the football team.  No new Nikes every month.  No BYU equipment without a pricetag.  We largely pay our own way.  Fortunately, we had a gracious donor help us with warm-ups and other travel gear and the National Guard gave us new uniforms and field equipment- we count those as major blessings.  The rest is up to us, either out of pocket or through our fundraising efforts {see to make a donation}.  The result?  We REALLY want it.  We work for this team, we fight for this team, we put our money where our mouth is.  Other teams we played against got to travel to Europe to play games, while we are still paying off our trip to Florida for the finals.  This perpetual fight for respect and legitimacy has given us determination, heart, and unbeatable cameraderie.


I also got a few other things from being on this team that were somewhat less pleasant. Besides the fact that I actually had to wear a walking boot over my broken foot at graduation, I have a lengthy history of injuries, that is actually mild in comparison to many of my teammates.  I have made a similar list of said injuries before (I think it was only my second blog post back in the day, but it has a photo of my neck X-ray and black eye if you want to check it out!), and now I want to conclude it:

-cracked rib

-massive black eye

-100s, possibly 1000s of bruises

-torn ligaments all over the top of my foot requiring years of PT

-cervical spine reversal (yeah, bad)

-3 lost toenails

-one VERY dead leg

-tendonitis in my shoulder

-bersitis in my shoulder

-impingement in my shoulder

-2 sprained wrists

-neck soreness ALL the time

-popped blood vessels all along my shoulders and upper back, regularly

-2 thumbs on the verge of dislocation, requiring lots of tape

-1 partially ripped off thumb nail

-2 inch scar under my forearm

-3 scars across my knees

-some awful blood blisters, and regular ones too

-supposedly a hairline fracture on my right foot

-sprains and strains all over my right foot

-and on & on & on


That was fun.  Dear parents of the world, take note- this list seems daunting, even abusive.  And yet in the process, I have made the best of friends, been able to travel all over the country, built my confidence, increased my fitness, expanded myself culturally, and helped define me as I grew through my college years.  Your kids may express a desire to do things that, frankly, scare you.  Tae Kwon Do, wrestling, fencing, rugby…but I would ask you to not get hung up on the stereotypes (everyone thinks that rugby players are beastly 300 pound aggressive man-eating Lesbians- not entirely true), but think of what they can gain.  If you want your kids (or yourself!) to learn new skills, be healthy, and develop team player qualities, then you might as well let them do something that they want to do so they don’t get burned out and decide that channel surfing must be the only sport for them.  No one wants that.


Take home message: go for it!  I have scared my parents many a time with sports injuries, traveling to Palestine while terrorist acts were occurring frequently, SCUBA diving with amateurs in another hemisphere, and so forth and I am nothing but better for it!  Try something new today- everyone needs a hobby!  Don’t let the mundane dominate your life; be that lone white girl in hula class, take that trip that you’ve always wanted, study that language you are curious about, paint your room that crazy color!


Keep it real.   

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Welcome back to the fresh air, Roxana

Really interesting story. I remember hearing an obscure tale of an Iranian-American journalist imprisoned in Tehran, Iran, for espionage. Seemed ridiculous at the time and as the facts are surfacing, looks even more ridiculous now. There are actually several journalists imprisoned in Tehran at the moment on similar charges and I am sure they all have similar stories. These arrests and detainments appear to be purely politically motivated and, in a word, corrupt.

Yesterday it was announced that Roxana Saberi was released from prison in Tehran. Of note is the fact that she has dual citizenship in the US and Iran and her father is an Iranian native. She has lived there for about 6 years, working as a freelance journalist for BBC and other news agencies while living with her family. If I had family in the Middle East as well as citizenship in a Middle Eastern country, you bet I would be over there in a minute to be able to get first-hand information to share with the global news network. Not to mention she has cultural and linguistic experience in the area and she is trained in journalism. Of course she is going to be there! It is all very logical and yet the Iranian government leapt to the ridiculous conclusion that she must be a spy for the United States and locked her up in jail with an eight year sentence after a hearing that, according to Saberi’s father, was a mockery and lasted only a couple of minutes.

Thank goodness for people like her who are willing to leave home (although, arguably, Iran is like home to her, making the case for her being an enemy to the state even less likely) in order to seek out global truth so that others can know what is going on and be able to intervene in unjust cases like this. Good thing someone is there to find this out and the word can get to those in authority to help set things right. I admire international journalists and I plead with them to deliver truth, not to further agendas under the guise of truth.
Honestly, can't we just tell the truth? Politicians, teachers, reporters, writers, parents? That would make things a lot easier.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Tribute to My Mom

Well, I graduated from college a couple of weeks ago and I have the greatest mom ever, so I wanted to take a moment to explain the connection between those two statements of fact.

The thing is, my Momma has been with me every step of the way. She got me Ninja Turtles shoe lace chompers so that I would not have the peril of untied shoes in preschool, thereby eliminating any unnecessary distraction from my early childhood education. She waited until I could actually read before putting me into GATE classes at school so I wouldn't get frustrated and hate it. She let me do after-school sports, summer swimming squad in junior high, high school sports, and even college sports which helped keep me invested in my education and mentally refreshed for my studies. She stood in long lines so that I could transfer into better schools with better programs. She literally made me lunch everyday up until I graduated from high school- amazing!- unless of course it was "breakfast for lunch" at Patton Elementary, in the which case, I gladly bought. There was also hot cocoa ready for me before seminary everyday and, although I scorched my tongue most of the time, it was a greatly appreciated boost to get me out the door in the morning. Demonstrated by hundreds of PTA meetings and Parent-Teacher Conferences and Booster Club events, school carnival shifts, napkins in my lunch that said "I love you" in permanent marker, water polo games and swim meets attended, and countless other acts of service, her love for me was loud and clear. She set the example by working late into the nights to finish her own school work and showed me the value of an education as she finished her degree- I am so proud of her for that. My mom came with me to set up my dorm room at BYU and take a freshmen photo at the very same spot we are in for the photo above four years later when she stood by me again, this time as a college graduate. Thanks for letting me call you all the time and always knowing when to send me a box of treats and when to tell me to stop whining and to always inspire me to never give up while always believing in my value as a women, as a daughter of God, and as a person in this world. I love you SO much and I thank you for giving me every opportunity for growth and happiness. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Remember the Taliban?

Big problems. The Pakistani government, in an effort to protect its people has told many of its citizens to evacuate in order to avoid an imminent battle between the Pakistan army and Taliban fighters. With their people’s security as the government’s priority, peace accords were signed in February between the Taliban and the Pakistani government that basically, in part, ceded the Taliban some land in exchange for a ceasefire. Seems all well and good, except now there is no longer a ceasefire, as the area of Mingora has been recently taken by force by Taliban members, and the land given to the Taliban is now being used as a base to launch their offensive against Pakistan. Mistake number one: giving ANYTHING to the Taliban. Seems overstated, but the “we will NOT negotiate with terrorists” stance is, in my opinion, probably the safest. I hate to blame them, though, because if I saw a glimmer of peace through some talks and agreements, then I would be tempted to give it a shot, in the hope that lives would be saved and that people would come through for you and not go back on their word. I like to have faith in people. Unfortunately, we are talking about the Taliban here…not exactly the most charitable and trustworthy members of the human race. So, sadly, these peace accords have horribly backfired on Pakistan. But better luck negotiating with terrorists next time.
Photo of Pakistanis evacuating. Yeah, not enough room actually inside the bus apparently. Courtesy of New York Times.