In the first 22 years of my life, I’ve learned a lot of things. In the next however many years I have left, I hope to learn many, many more. But, I have never learned more in about five seconds than what I learned from an 18 year-old gymnast.
In the 2012 London Olympics, the “Fierce Five,” the five women Olympians representing the United States in gymnastics, had given the U.S. their first hope of winning the team gold medal for the first time since 1996. The team’s captain was Aly Raisman. The U.S. started strong and, despite a late charge by the Russians, the event came down to one event, the floor and it was up to the last competitor, Aly Raisman. She needed a near perfect routine to get the gold for the United States.
Each vault, jump, flip and dance was executed with near perfection, every time up and down the mat. On the final pass, Raisman needed to finish strong and stick the landing. She did a final jump, did the splits in mid air and stuck the landing. She threw her hands in the air, crying, to finish the routine.
She nailed the routine and she knew it. She was in tears before her feet hit the floor. Think about that for a second.
Getting that routine right, on an Olympic-sized stage, was the first thing on the mind for Aly. She wanted to get it right for herself, for her team and her country. All of that time, preparation and hard work preparing for that came down to one routine. And. She. Nailed. It. She had a brief catharsis because all of it coming together and performing well meant so much to her. To this day, this instance remains my favorite moment in sports.
What Aly made me realize in that moment is that it’s funny how our lives and careers are defined by moments, either short or long. For me, that’s how I remember her and she got gold in the floor as well. The thing about moments is, however, that they are purely yours. Throwing her hands in the air and crying while to win gold is a moment that belongs only to Aly Raisman. No one else. But, you don’t have to have be an Olympic athlete to have those moments. No, they can and do happen to all of us.
But, you don’t have to go at it alone. Aly Raisman had her teammates there with her, cheering her on. It took a team to make that dream of winning gold into reality. What about you? What are your moments?
I’ve always been told that I can be anything that I want to be. But why would I want to do that when I can be everything I want to be. That’s what these moments and reveling in those around you can do. They can help you to be everything you want to be.
I want to be other things than a sports guy. I want to be a husband, father, uncle (sorry to my brother for the pressure) and a friend. This long journey at West Texas A&M has helped me to aspire to be everything I want to be in life.
But I couldn’t do it alone. Everybody that has helped me along the way has meant more to me than I can express. And I’m a writer.
It has been a tremendous experience at WT. While here, I have seen friends come and graduate. I have been through ups and downs in about every circumstance and have had my heart broken in more ways than I care to admit. But, if I had 100 lifetimes, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my life as a Buff. And that’s just part of the moment.