The night before the Olympic gold medal game in 2002 and 2006 will be etched in my memory forever. Tossing and turning in bed, anticipating the play in my mind and praying for a personal best performance … and I mean praying. Some would expect great confidence and mental strength from an Olympian who is gearing up for a gold medal performance. Well, it is much easier said than done.
When you are far away from your goal, it is much easier to play free. When it is right in front of you and there for the taking, it is difficult to grab! I remember the feeling of being SO close, but not there yet! This is the most difficult place to be – when your mind crosses paths with your senses and takes you on an emotional roller coaster. Here lies the difference between good and great! Do you have the courage to grab it?
My challenge on Feb. 20, 2002 and Feb. 19, 2006 (the night before the gold medal games) was the fear of failing. I tossed and turned all night as I tried to combat negative thoughts and manage my emotions. I would ‘re-frame’ and write positive thoughts in my journal. I was going to change my way of thinking, damn it!
Perhaps the most important thing that happened on the eve of those games was the phone call I made to my husband (my sounding board … sorry, dear). I needed to hear his voice to gain some perspective. What he said to me will forever ring in my ears: “Cheryl, no matter what happens tomorrow, I love you.”
Now that’s perspective.
I walked into the arena the day of both gold medal games … my anxious nerves left and in came the butterflies. There is only one way I can explain it or make sense of it. When you know that you have done everything you could to be the best you can be, there is only one thing to do: GO FOR IT! Mistakes are going to happen, but have you given yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful. At the end of the day, I believe you have to have the ability to ask yourself one question: are you ready?
Our Canadian girls are ready! They started out as a select group of 27 players. They re-located to Calgary and have been training full-time since August. They have pushed through countless hours of fitness tests, endurance, core and strength training. They have been part of a structured on-ice program and a vigorous game schedule. They have had breaking points. They have had times when they missed family, questioned the process and asked, why? They have played tired, hurt and pushed through changes at every level. They have done it all and would do it all again.
So girls … are you ready?
Please, remember one thing. No matter what happens, Canada loves you!