My Sports Psychology Story
rising junior at the University of Southern California, I am majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Performance Science and Spanish. My extensive experience in sports and the obstacles I have overcome as an athlete have inspired me to pursue a career as a sports psychologist. I want to use my passion for sports and psychology to train people in mindset development. My goal is to prepare athletes mentally to excel physically in their sports. Sharing my own athletic journey, I will assist those who are facing similar struggles. I want to empower them to pursue their dreams and achieve success, despite any obstacles they encounter. Teaching them the power of mindset, I will inspire them with my story.
At thirteen, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and as a result, I have overcome many obstacles playing sports while battling this disease. At the time of my diagnosis, I was working toward my black belt in martial arts. Years later, I would go on to play basketball, lacrosse, and track & field at Oaks Christian, while still fighting this disease. As an athlete with Lyme disease, I was constantly fatigued, weak, and struggled with respiratory issues that significantly impacted my ability to perform. I struggled to execute basic drills and fell behind most of my teammates. However, this journey taught me how to be strong and persevere in the face of adversity. It completely changed my mindset and helped me realize that I could still accomplish all my goals, like getting my black belt and playing varsity basketball, while fighting this disease. This stage of my life showed me that the right mindset can overcome almost any physical setback. I gained confidence in a difficult time and learned that though life can be precarious and unpredictable, we cannot let our circumstances define or limit us. Unfortunately, I still have Lyme disease today, but I have learned so many valuable lessons from it that have brought me success in my athletic pursuits and given me a vision for my career. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, my battle with Lyme disease gave me important insight into the field of sports psychology.
The first time I was officially introduced to sports psychology was my junior year of high school when my basketball team had two sports psychologists do a couple sessions with us. Working with them sparked my interest in pursuing a career helping athletes with performance, both on the individual and team level. My senior year, I took AP Psychology and through that class, I became intrigued by psychology and learning how the brain functions, specifically in relation to performance. Since that realization, I have learned more about the field of sports psychology, reached out to several sports psychologists in the LA area, and attended sessions to learn more about the field. With the knowledge I have gained from experts in the field, I solidified my desire to become a psychologist and work with athletes.
Although I am no longer an athlete, I have continued using my experience in sports, specifically basketball, to help others. The past couple summers, I worked as a basketball coach for the Oaks Christian Basketball Summer Camp. As a coach, I worked with elementary and middle schoolers, running drills, teaching basketball and teamwork skills, and facilitating different games for the kids to practice what they had learned. This year, I starting working as a team manager for the USC men’s basketball team. My responsibilities include assisting coaches with practice and drills, helping players prepare for games, setting up and cleaning up, keeping time and stats, and assisting the team with whatever they need during games.
While working for the USC basketball team, I have had the opportunity to observe first-hand what occurs behind the scenes of the game. This has given me insight into different aspects of sports psychology. Mindset is a huge part of performance and I have noticed that the players who stay focused and always encourage their teammates rather than getting frustrated with them tend to perform better. Those who are lazy or unfocused always do worse and have more conflict with their teammates and coaches as well. Perfectionism also plays an interesting role in performance. Perfectionism drives risk taking, as risk taking is often the only way to achieve perfection. During games, our players have taken may risks that have led to buzzer beaters or big overtime wins. Although taking these risks does not always work out in our favor, the motivation and confidence to take these risks are crucial to success in every sport. I have seen our basketball players defy the odds because they had the right mindset that gave them the drive and courage to accomplish their goals, even when no one believed they could. Working with the team has increased my understanding of psychology, and I will continue to take these lessons and apply them to my career as a sports psychologist.