Mind over matter. Three simple words that mean so much to athletes in quarantine right now. Many athletes involved in team sports or special environment activities are forced to be contained in their homes. Parks are closed and fields are taped up with yellow caution tape screaming to keep out. “What now?” many athletes ask. The answer may lie in your mind.
Meet Ellason Hwang, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington. As a young girl Ella tried many sports. From dance to swim and tennis, finally settling on soccer. She knew soccer was the right choice for her. Her journey started at Seattle United as a COPA team member. The highest skill level you could be as an emerging soccer player.
Ella said she learned many lessons from the coaches there. Not just how to kick a soccer ball or score a goal but something more meaningful than that…how to manage mind over matter. This was an important skill that didn’t just apply to soccer but applied to her daily life
I had 4 coaches during my time at Seattle United and learned at an early age about how to deal with stressful situations, time management with school, discipline, commitment, teamwork, receiving and giving feedback to my coaches and teammates.
With the help of these mindful lessons she was able to expand her love of the sport and continue to grow closer to her teammates. Soccer is all about working together with your team. If you want to go fast you go alone but if you want to go far you go together. That is the true nature of the game. This proved to be the key in Ella’s case.
Ella moved teams and started playing for Reign Academy. Reign Academy is an all girls soccer league under US soccer. Big names from US soccer have played in the Olympics and have gone on to win world cups multiple times. Her team before quarantine was able to travel every month to experience high levels of competition from all around the country. They went on to become a pretty top ranking team finishing an astounding eighth out of seventy-one.
In the Summer playoffs, out of 71 teams we were ranked #8 in the nation and competed in San Diego. I have made so many close friends over the years and traveled all over the US and the world including training and competing with AJAX Academy in Amsterdam and visiting Real Madrid and Barcelona FC stadiums in Spain, which are two of the best soccer teams in the world!
In response to covid-19, Ella’s entire soccer season has been postponed till further notice. Senior showcases were cancelled which was a goodbye to the seniors. Worst of all, the entire soccer league cancelled their season including Men’s professional soccer. No more sounders games or Ol Reign games. Even though these situations are really discouraging, Ella makes sure to keep going by staying healthy and keeping in touch with friends.
I still realize that our health is the most important thing, although sometimes it can be really frustrating, especially when you just want to go out and see your friends. I try to remain pretty positive and know that this is temporary and I’ll be playing with my teammates again soon.
Quarantine has made many athletes modify their way of working out. Many athletes in team sports such as soccer can’t practice with their team. So they focus on individuality and mentality to keep athletes strong in a different way. Ella has found ways to work around the hefty bans going on outside of her house.
As for individual training, our team created a base plan that each player can individually alter to fit their own needs. I have been focusing on all types of activities during quarantine. I’ve been regularly doing body weight workouts, as well as working on speed, core and endurance drills which have kept me pretty busy. Sometimes when it feels like I can’t be in the house any longer, I go on a run around the neighborhood in the evening and just listen to music during the sunset which is the best feeling!
Ella has made an effort to read and write everyday. Getting your mind off of the outside world can be challenging with social media and your phone nowadays. But having a little “me” time is what many people need at least once a day. Ella also tries to set goals or focuses for a week.
Our club has provided us with lots of things to do during this hard time, but for me I think it’s really important to write down in a daily journal how you’re feeling, what you are eating, what you are doing etc. Also READ! Researching athletes is something I’m focused on this week, specifically equal pay for women that has been taking my mind off being in the house all day.
Focusing on mentality has been important for everyone, not just athletes. It is the key to a successful and long career for many athletes. Sports aren’t just about being physical and the strongest. It is about drive and determination and your ability to get through difficult times. Mind over matter.