Window of Excellence
For much of the collegiate track and field world, this past weekend marked the start of the championship season. Our Alfred State team took part in the festivities as well, competing in our outdoor track and field championships in Keystone, PA. All of our athletes competed extremely well. I’m very proud of how both our male and female throwers competed, earning their fair share of top 6 places along the way.
One of the messages I shared with our throwers the past couple of weeks has been about windows of opportunity. I mentioned this in my last post, and I believe it is worth mentioning again. One of my favorite quotes comes from Jud Logan, 4x USA hammer Olympian and legendary coach of Ashland University.
“Never take for granted your window of excellence”.
I’ve had this quote saved in my phone notes for quite some time. I’ve been waiting for the right time to share it with my athletes even though Jud shared it on social media quite a bit ago. His message doesn’t only resonate with sports, but with life in general. We have a limited amount of time to excel in a particular avenue of our life before the window is closed. It may be in business, the medical field, education, or sports, but we have a limited time to achieve greatness in our chosen endeavors.
Much like life, track and field and throwing in particular has a window of excellence. For the small majority of athletes that competed in high school and made the transition to collegiate competition, they may be their opportunity. The ability to compete at the collegiate level. From there, an even smaller number of athletes may make it their goal to win a conference championship, earn an All-American award, or win the national championship in an event. Wherever you may fall in that prism of competition, our window for excellence doesn’t stay open for long. But while the window is open, we might as well take advantage of the opportunities afforded to us as we continue to excel in our chosen endeavors of competition.
Always Try Your Best
Before my maternal grandfather’s life succumbed to cancer, we were talking one afternoon after lunch. I was so distraught at the situation he was in that I couldn’t keep myself from coming to tears everytime I saw him. I knew his time was limited, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that one day he would not be with us any longer.
The last time I spoke to him was on the phone. I called from a hotel in Bowling Green, OH. My training partner and I were going to compete in a meet the following day. I called that Saturday night. Surrounded by my parents and grandmother, he told me to always try my best in whatever I wanted to pursue in life. He spoke this phrase to me in Italian, an old proverb from Sicily. The last thing I said to him was, “I love you”.
The next day I competed. Not my best, but certainly not my worst. Jud Logan broke the 50-54 age group world records in the 25# weight throw and 6k hammer throw. It was the second time I watched Jud compete. The first time was as a senior at a competition in Akron, OH, May, 2004. This time it was October, 2009.
When I got home from the meet, I called my mom and asked her how Nonno was doing. She told me he passed away earlier that day. While I was competing in a track and field meet 300 miles away my grandfather lost his battle with cancer. He was 84 year olds. I was 27 years old. The last thing I said to him was, “I love you”. I’m getting emotional as I’m typing this out now.
I share this information with everyone because I believe much of our success as individuals is dependent upon our mindset and how we approach situations presented to us. My grandfather always told my brother and I to try our best in whatever we were doing. It was always to try our best. I’ve shared these sentiments with the athletes I’ve coached in the past and with the athletes I’m currently coaching.
Why Mindset Matters
Much of this idea is wrapped around the notion of having a positive mindset and outlook on what we are about to do. I believe that oftentimes the outcome of a track and field competition has been decided before the competition has even begun. The driving mechanism behind this phenomenon is the idea about having a positive mindset and having a belief in yourself and your abilities that you can and will overcome whatever obstacles may stand in your way.
A former athlete that I worked with while the athlete was in highschool recently shared via social media that he won his conference’s hammer championship. He also shared some other snippets of background information that other individuals probably weren’t privy to. He shared notes that he started writing himself a couple of months ago declaring that he would indeed win the conference hammer championship. He believed in himself, and believed in his ability to ensure that outcome would come to fruition. He approached the competition and the days, weeks, and months with a positive mindset fixated on the notion that he would indeed win.
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.