Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blugolds Enter the Fall with "The Program"

UW-Eau Claire students are about one month into a new semester, and our Blugold Softball team has re-united and built this year's team! Try-outs have come and gone, "gassers" and all. There's 19 that survived (and our lovely teammate Emma "Wish" Wishau off studying in France to make 20). We are all incredibly excited for another year to work hard, work even harder, and grow together as teammates, leaders, and now...warriors.

We have learned what it means to be warriors after experiencing a little something called "Judgment Day," put on by a sports physical and mental training company called The Program. For two days this past week, our team was led by former members of the military and collegiate athletes who now dedicate their time to help build CHAMPIONSHIP teams. We went through challenging tasks like hoisting 8-foot logs up and down with our teammates, running 50-pound. sandbags up and down the soccer field, completing military command exercises, and tredding water in the deep end in full sweats.

I thought instead of giving you full details about the event, I'd give you a couple player testimonies to hear about the experience.

Here's some perspective from sophomore Amanda Fischer:

"Twelve of the most challenging hours of my life. Twelve of the most impactful hours of my life. It's amazing how just twelve hours can impact an individual and a team so much. The gratitude I have for the opportunity we had those two days is impossible to bring up in words. Throughout those twelve hours my teammates and I struggled. We struggled physically and even more importantly we struggle mentally. But we didn't just GET THROUGH Judgment Day, we ATTACKED Judgment Day. We learned key lessons that are going to take this team to the National Championship on Gelein Field in May. I learned throughout those twelve hours that every single person on this team has so much to offer, and so much more that we didn't see. The pool morning was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, and the first time we started treading water and taking our sweatshirts on and off I was honestly scared for my life. But once I realized that others were struggling more than I was, and I started focusing on making sure they got through it and stopped worrying about my own pain, my pain virtually went away. Yeah, it was still challenging and I continued to struggle, but when worrying about my fellow Warriors was my main focus, it was a lot easier to get through that struggle. There were times when I had to be carried by my teammates as well. I am so thankful for the group of players that we have this year, and I am so thankful that I got to experience Judgment Day with them. If we can take the structure, precision, and attack attitude to the off-season and into the ACTUAL season. We will be, UNSTOPPABLE.

"We are ONE team with ONE heartbeat."

Another testimonial from senior Karen Hansen:

"I’m not going to lie…I had some nerves. I didn’t know what to expect out of the staff or out of myself. All I knew is that I wanted to give it as much as I could, remain disciplined, and help my team in it as well. The Program’s results exceeded my expectations.

"I grew so much in learning what was in myself. As Judgment Day went on, I began to realize that people don’t really care if I’ve been trying hard. I’m supposed to be doing that. It’s more to give it our ALL. And as much as I’d like to say I gave it 100% every day, every drill, all the time, I know I can still tap into more. It can be extremely frustrating to see all my teammates out ahead of me where I think I could be – where I want to be after fighting back from surgery. So many times, I had to come into check, give myself some grace, and then remember though that this time is NOT about me. It’s about them. Us. And MAN, am I so proud of how hard my teammates work. Blown away.

"I LOVED that Mack shared with us that leadership is taking care of the mission ourselves, and then helping our teammates in reaching that mission. I know that I want to lead in a way that I’m giving it my all, and then pushing, encouraging, and rejoicing in my teammates successes. I stopped looking at myself or how I was measuring up to those to my left and right. Instead, I learned to celebrate when my teammates finished ahead of me, when they overcame something really challenging, when they showed their passion for the team in some incredible act of leadership, and from some all out hustle.

"But all this really, REALLY set in during our pool workout, treading water in the deep end of the pool. I was lucky to be partners with Zana. We worked really well together, and completed our task relatively quickly over time. After her and I both had our sweats on, we figured out to help out our teammates. Right next to me was Miss Laura Raflik. I could tell she didn’t want to show it, but she was frightened as she struggled in the water. She was cold, shaking, and panicky. She was breathing heavily in her struggle. I assured her that I would help hold her up, affirmed her in her struggle, and tried to keep her calm. It was one of the most beautiful things to be partners with Laura when Courtney narrowed down our mission to just 9 people in the deep end. I was SO proud of our entire team to continue to cut down the time and keep each other up in that water, and then to just drastically cut down that time, despite the fear in Laura’s eyes and the shake in her body, we all did it together. And I could only help her because I stopped caring about what the people outside of the pool were thinking. I stopped worrying about what my performance looked like. I just got my sweatshirt off and up as fast as I could so that I could help Laura. I will never forget the exchange we had immediately after that 1:15, the relief, exhaustion, and thankfulness in her eyes and smile. And I saw her later on that afternoon and had one of the best hugs I’ve ever had from a teammate. While she told me that I inspired her, I think she did way more for me.

"All in all, this team showed incredible growth, incredible heart, and incredible determination.  I am so excited to see where we go from here!"

Make sure to discover more about the experience on the Blugold Athletics page, from WEAU 13's Online News coverage, our Flickr photos, or YouTube video below.

A couple shout out's as well from us Blugolds!
  • Thanks to The Program for investing in our team, challenging us, sharing your hearts for intensity and teammwork, and ultimately for sharing what it means to be always looking to our left and to our right.
  • Thanks to Melissa for treating us to recovery meals! You take such good care of us!
  • Thanks to super fans Keith & Tim for showing up to support matter what the hour of the day is.
  • Thanks to all the Blugold coaches and faculty, parents and fans, and friends who supported us by watching us experience Judgment Day!
  • Thanks to our friends and family for supporting us through the week, encouraging us even as we were tired from the experience.
  • Thanks to our coaching staff for believing in us to present us with an incredible opportunity to move forward together in this!
Look for more testimonies and stories this fall!


- Karen Hansen, #22

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