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Rise above with Rudy

August 18, 2020

Keeping a positive mental mindset is key to facing the uncertainty of these bizarre times we are living. This mentality has the potential to help us get through negative days and will serve as a great tool for our future in life.

In my eyes, this year I was blessed with the opportunity to spend more time with my loved ones than ever before. Throughout this time I was also fortunate enough to take part in certain webinars and conferences. One workshop session in particular impacted me the most, “Rise above with Rudy”.

Have you ever watched the movie Rudy? If you haven’t, it’s a must. Rudy is a 1993 American biographical sports film and it is about the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, who harbored the dream of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles.

Just to give you a little bit of context, Rudy comes from a family of nine siblings in which his dad worked three jobs to put food on the table. Rudy had dyslexia, lacked the academic eligibility, money, stature, and talent to play football in Notre Dame. His chances of making his dream true were completely unrealistic, yet significant people along his life engraved a positive mindset in him which convinced him to fight for it.

Rudy Ruettiger dictated the workshop himself, and listening to all the challenges he faced to get into his dream school was truly amazing and inspiring. Here are some of the key lessons I learnt from him that day:

  1. It’s all about love and respect. Rudy’s High School coach always saw the positive in him, his strengths, and not his weaknesses. The lesson here is that we need to show a lot of love because we all learn better when there is love. Just like Rudy’s coach and his best friend, which inspired him to push himself and never quit on his dream. Our children need to surround themselves with good friends, good thoughts, and develop positive relationships with adults in their family and school.

  2. Don’t steal people’s joy! Be around people that want you to win, that gives you hope. When our children/students cannot produce like other students, let’s empower them. Let’s help them be better, be more positive. If we steal our kid’s joy, they will not be positive and they won’t learn. When our children are excited about something, let’s help them embrace it.

  3. Preparation is the key to anything. Our children need to dream like they are an “All American”. They need good mentors and good people that will help them through the day, through their struggles, and through challenging and complicated times. Nothing is impossible with a positive attitude and the right push.

Towards the end of the session, I raised my hand to ask Rudy for advice on how we should be facing Covid-19, with the canceling of all sports seasons and the huge impact that this will cause on our student-athletes’ lives.

Rudy claimed that our Mental Attitude is the key. We need to develop a mental attitude that will keep us going. Regardless if there is a season or not, as an athlete you do not quit working out, nor doing the little things everyday to become better. You need to keep going because there will come a moment in which you will come back, and you must be ready for that day. Sitting around dreaming about things happening won’t make them real until you get up and get to work.

This is the moment to develop a Positive Mental Attitude in our school so that when the day comes, we will be ready to thrive.

Are you ready for that day?


Claudia Araya
Director of Athletics and Activities

Self-confidence

October 29, 2019

What is self-confidence? Self-confidence is the ability to execute your skills.

Some say that self-confidence is the mark of a champion. It’s that secret ingredient that keeps athletes working hard, regardless of how many times they will fail or how many obstacles get thrown at them on their path to success. Lacking self-confidence will make our athletes, children or teams, consistently perform below their potential. Low self-confidence can kill the enjoyment of the activity or sport and turn one into a dropout statistic.

In sports psychology, they talk about proactive confidence versus reactive confidence. Proactive confidence is taking responsibility for your confidence. When an athlete has a game and brings good levels of confidence, they fill their minds with healthy thoughts so as to feel empowered during their performance.

Conversely, there is reactive confidence, which is how the athlete is reacting to the events of the day. Maybe they are tired and did not sleep well. Maybe they argued with a parent that morning or had a bad warmup. Maybe they missed some shots and thus will immediately jump to conclusions deciding that this is not their best day.

The goal is to have proactive confidence. Are there specific things that parents, coaches and teammates can do to help this confidence grow? Or worse, are there things we do that can kill it?

When Caeleb Dressel was called on stage for winning one of the many awards that made him the 2017 swimmer of the year, he thanked his coach and staff, teammates, family and many others that were important in that recent swimming season. The part that got me the most was when he thanked his parents. It was very special because he said that they were the best swim parents in the whole world because they did not know anything about swimming, could not recall any of his best times and were just proud of him for swimming and having fun.

As a swim-mom, I was always up at 4:00 am taking my son to swim early morning practice and then at the end of the day, the same. I had to wait for him to finish some days as late as 9:00pm. I did not have much time to sit on the stands to wait for him but many times I did.

The swim parents are super supportive, great people that sacrifice their family lives for their swimmers and sometimes they can be very intense. I remember that there was a parent that would watch every single practice. He became a very good friend of the coach so he sat on the pool deck, believed he was another coach and even had his own stopwatch to time his son and friends.

Everything was going well, his son became a top swimmer in the country, had national records, the boy became a project for Tokyo 2020 and dad started living through his son’s results.

The pressure on that child was huge and one day, he stopped improving his times, which is very normal by the way. It can happen. He was not placed in the competitions and he looked sad, overwhelmed, questioning his abilities. The coach changed his style of swimming but nothing changed. The child changed his dry-land and swimming trainings but nothing changed. Everyone would try to find a way to help him, but nothing changed!

When he did well, everyone felt proud, but now that he wasn’t and his times were getting worse, his dad and coach would openly show their frustration. The poor boy’s self-confidence was gone and each competition was a torture for him.

Caeleb Dressel’s words to his parents caused a great impact in many of our swimmers and their parents. My son made me sit and watch the video and asked me to never again make any comments about his swimming. He thanked me for always supporting him and cheering from the stands.

That other boy went to his dad and asked him to step out of the pool deck and be his dad. He said he already had a coach and that he needed a dad that did not talk to him about swimming all day. Dad was devastated but it was true. From then on, the boy continued his training but he had already lost the love for the sport, the enjoyment and he quit two months later.

As teachers, coaches or parents, are we realistic in our expectations for our students-athletes or children? Are we doing what is best for them? Are we building their confidence? Do we need to put them in a club to be the best? Do we need to shroud them in work and add more stress in their best school years so they do better in the future and access the top universities or colleges?

In this world, where excellence in performance is an expectation, we need to be careful about what we expect from our children, what we say and how we say it. More important, are we always celebrating their successes? And if there weren’t many tastes of success, are we learning in defeat? How about we start praising the process and not only the outcome?


Claudia Araya
Director of Athletics and Activities