By Tyler Lindgren
There is nothing quite like the world of recruiting.
It is a brutal and time-consuming process that comes with lots of excitement and, sometimes, even heartbreak.
It combines hopeful teenagers/parents seeking the best opportunities for their future and high-level coaches weighing how each prospect will contribute to their success.
It is a business – no doubt about it. As a 15-year-old club volleyball player, I didn’t quite understand this. I took it personally every time a school denied me or told me how great I was and then cut all communication.
As a fragile high schooler, I remember feeling hopeless after being the #2 option for my dream school and losing the position to a girl I didn’t know. Sadly, this has or will probably happen to most recruits out there.
However, looking back I’m thankful for experiences like these. I learned more from these experiences than I would have gained from going to what I thought was my “dream school”.
I learned how to have really hard conversations, ask important questions, and how to accept the denial, and move forward.
The list goes on.
I guess my recruiting process wasn’t scary enough…
Because I went back and did it again after 3 years of Division 1 collegiate volleyball at Temple University.
After making it to our conference championship this year and graduating a year early, I decided it was time to chase another dream I’ve always had. Pursuing collegiate beach volleyball.
With our season being pushed from the fall to spring and the upcoming season is only 4 months later, I had little time to waste if I was going to enter the transfer portal. Adding onto that, covid-19 had made a mess of scholarships and rosters as all current athletes got an extra year of eligibility.
I knew it was a high-risk decision with less-than-ideal circumstances.
However, I entered the transfer portal shortly after my indoor season ended in April.
Several fears loomed in my mind during this process.
Unsure of what opportunities were going to arise, I was nervous to tell my teammates, coaches, support staff, and friends. I felt like I was letting them down and abandoning the program I had poured into for 3 years.
I thought people would be disappointed and upset with me. I was expecting many bridges to be burned.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After individually meeting with the coaches, athletic trainers, strength staff, and teammates to break the news, I had never felt more supported than I did that day. Everyone responded with unexplainable understanding and appreciation. No one questioned my decision or made me feel bad about my choice.
They all asked what they could do to help and wanted to maintain contact after I left.
By the end of the day, I had past managers, academic advisors, equipment staff, and teammates texting me telling me how much they appreciated what I had done for the program and wished me the best.
Prior to this day, I hadn’t realized what I was building during my time at Temple.
How you treat those around you matters, and the cool thing is that you have 100% control over that.
Whether it’s someone shagging balls for you during practice or the director of sports performance, your day-to-day interactions are building relationships.
As I reflect on my indoor volleyball career and look towards my new journey competing on the sand, I can’t help but notice the maturation and growth that I have experienced.
I had some really high highs and some really low lows, but I wouldn’t go back and change them even if I could. I can now see all the work that God was doing, and I’m so thankful for it. He has a plan for each of us, and life is so much better when we can just trust Him.
As I prepare for this next chapter, there are 3 lessons I am taking with me:
1 – Take risks & seize opportunities.
2 – Treat people well along the way.
3 – Learn from the hardships.
With love, Tyler.
Dealing with the Pressure of Your Family Name
The Grieves: A Family of Baseball
Baseball has always been the center of my life. When I was growing up at a young age, I never really felt the pressures of having so much rich baseball history in my family, but the older I got, the more people noticed my last name.
The pressure that came with my family name impacted how I treated the game. My parents did not put any pressure on how far I made it playing. They always just wanted me to play the game respectfully because the name on the back of my jersey carried a lot of baseball knowledge and experience.
My dad Ben was drafted second overall in 1994 by the A’s, my uncle Tim was drafted in 1994 by the Royals, and my grandpa Tom was drafted sixth overall by the Senators in 1966.
Consequently, the pressure was on my younger brother and me to be baseball players.
I doubt my brother realizes that yet, and I definitely didn’t know it at his age, but now, I realize. Every coach that I have ever played for knows who my dad is. When I go to big tournaments, people come up to me and ask if I am related to Ben or Tom. I definitely feel like people are always watching me when I am playing and that there are always high expectations for me to perform well.
However, I have taken this in the best way possible most of the time as I use the pressure to motivate me to reach the expectations people have on me.
Other times, it has been more challenging, though. When I make mistakes, I feel even worse than I should because I feel those same people watching are disappointed. It is nearly impossible not to compare myself to my dad or grandpa when everyone else is.
When I am playing at my worst, I wonder if my dad experienced those same struggles, and that weighs over me.
It is a blessing to have so much experience and knowledge of the game at home with me, as I essentially have the best built-in hitting coach possible in my dad, but it is also hard to learn from someone who had baseball come so easy to them.
My dad can give me all the mechanical advice I need, but when it comes to mental advice, he cannot offer the same direction as he does on physical parts of the game.
I struggled majorly with the mental half of the game for most of my life, as the pressure I put on myself was often way more than I knew how to handle. In comparison, my dad was the top prospect in the world when his senior year in high school rolled around, which is where I am right now.
He never dealt with the mental struggles I have endured, at least not as a high schooler. In that sense, I feel helpless when I get in my head, as the tremendous mentoring of my dad becomes less and less valuable.
He can offer some changes to my swing and slight adjustments that might help me get back on track, but he can’t help me get out of my head when I go through a rough stretch at the plate.
With that, I have learned to embrace the mental toughness I have developed, as I have never once thought about giving up. Despite all the struggles I have endured playing the game, I still only want to be better and work harder.
Maybe my mental struggles are a blessing more than a downfall.
I have used them as my motivation to practice more with my dad when I am struggling. Yes, I get down on myself, but everyone does when they struggle. And baseball is a sport of struggling, but I have never backed away from the competition or the challenge. What I once considered my weakness in baseball, I now consider a strength. When I am at my worst, my inner doubt has only forced me to become better. It is a unique part of my game that no one can compare to my dad, uncle, or grandpa.
Why I am Grateful for Softball
The community we build playing sports far exceeds any championship or loss we may endeavor.
I have been dreaming about playing softball in college since I first picked up a glove.
After I started playing for Firecrackers of Central California with head Coach Mike Wallace, it became more of an attainable goal.
Coach Mike’s knowledge of the game, passion, and constantly pushing me to be better helped take me to a whole different playing level. I am so thankful to have met Coach Mike because he has taught me so much about the game and about myself.
He really helped me grow as a person and as a player. Now that I’m able to get an education and play the sport I love, my dream has come true for me!
My parents were the ones that introduced me to softball.
My dad used to play catch with me in the living room when I was 3 years old using a soft toy ball. Something about the game made me fall in love with it that is indescribable.
I played other sports throughout the years, like basketball and volleyball, but nothing made me feel how softball makes me. feel.
When I play softball, I can find an escape from my everyday day-to-day life. I can leave all of my worries off the field and just play the game that I love.
It is such a blessing to have such a fun outlet to really let out my emotions and feel free.
I am also thankful for all the responsibilities that softball has given me. I have become a better student and better at time management because of it, and it will help me be more successful in the future.
I am grateful to have softball a part of my life but most importantly those who helped and joined me along my journey. This holiday season, I can’t but feel overwhelming gratitude for all those who have supported me.
Influencing a Positive Response to Mental Illness in High Schools and Young Adults
The legacy of dual-sport athlete and mental health advocate, Jessica Lefevre.
I hit rock bottom four years ago.
It was Halloween 2018 when two of my guy friends were killed in a car accident. Then one girl from my high school committed suicide, and another from Reveal High School.
I saw the effect that those tragedies had on all of the students and also on me. I almost didn’t graduate from high school because I started skipping classes because of how depressed I got.
In my senior year of high school, I had an interest from Chapman University to join their women’s soccer program. I saw soccer in my future.
Unfortunately, though I did not end up committing because my GPA was below what they were asking. I saw my future vanish. I didn’t have a plan, a future; I saw no point in being here. I questioned whether I wanted to continue living.
Helping athletes and hearing their stories is what kept me going.
I thought my world was ending. I didn’t have a future with soccer; I didn’t know my future. But speaking to all of these players gave me purpose.
I learned, “It’s ok to not be ok.”
We had the 49ers come to our school to talk about mental health. These guys were grown men and never showed emotion.
There is this stereotype that men can’t show emotions. So you never see it. But I saw these players get emotional, which showed me that I wasn’t alone. They showed me that being emotional is a strength, not a weakness.
Being on a football team in high school, I saw how this mindset of athletes, putting everything aside once you step onto the field because you have to look tough, affects athletes.
Football players especially have to have a tough mindset where they can’t show emotions on the field.
One day I was practicing field goals before a game, and none of them were going in. Something was going on in my mind that I just couldn’t brush to the side.
And I remember walking off the field, taking my helmet off, and walking to the bench. My coach could tell I was upset, so he came up to me and asked what was going on with me.
I just broke down in tears. I couldn’t hold my emotions inside anymore. Because whether you are a female or male football player, you have to look tough on the field.
But I learned that showing emotion is not a sign of weakness; it signifies strength and bravery. And I wanted athletes to know that.
That’s when I started “Safe Space”- a youth organization spreading awareness for mental health among athletes. I became a speaker for the organization and traveled to different school districts, hoping to impact the athletes and their families.
The change was seen- we got mental health professionals, counselors at all of our district schools and other districts in the Bay area (private or public).
I would talk to sports teams and try to educate them on mental health. I would also speak at my football games to the parents of these athletes.
I expressed the importance of having those hard conversations with their child (about suicide or mental health disorders).
I found a purpose to keep living.
My purpose was to help others.
I saw life is worth living.
Live each day with a grateful heart because it can change in an instant.