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  • Writer's pictureMind to Performance

Brookes' Mindset Journey - Chapter 2: Anticipation

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

“So… Brookes, honey, how did it go?”

Brookes knew this question was waiting for him in the car. He didn’t know how to respond. Everything was fine. It was good actually, but he wasn’t fired up like he pictured himself following the tryouts. The coaches were clearly impressed with his skating and shooting, just as he knew they would be. But his passing was certainly not as crisp as he wanted. He felt his timing was off, leading him to not quite anticipate the same. Because of this, Brookes had turned over the puck a few times. His performance was definitely not exceptional. And exceptional was exactly what he needed. His mom patted his leg, looked him in the eye, and asked if he tried his hardest. Yes, of course he had; this question was always an easy yes and he knew she would be satisfied if he said so. But if she had asked if he’d done everything he could to prepare himself for success on the ice…

Brookes stared at his ceiling for what felt like an hour. His body was exhausted, but his mind refused to stand still. He couldn’t help but think, ‘what if?’ What if he had prepared for his math test? What if his mind was one hundred percent on hockey when his skates touched the ice? What if tryouts had gone the way they did every time he imagined them? Around and around his thoughts would go; it was a maddening exercise that quickly turned to anxiety when he glanced over at his clock. 1:25am. Brookes just wanted to shut his brain off, but the harder he tried, the more anxious he felt. And now his heart seemed eager to join the fray, beating faster in his chest. He felt helpless in his own head…

Once again, Brookes’ alarm ripped him from his slumbered thoughts. What time had he finally dozed off? As he sat up, he felt every muscle in his body cry out in protest. He really had given last night’s tryouts everything he could. Just as yesterday’s events began to fill his head, he felt a pang of panic in his chest – what if he hadn’t done enough to prove to the Varsity coaches that he has what it takes to play for them? Then, he suddenly remembered what his dad had told him once: “the past is passed us, if you don’t look forward, you’ll never get anywhere.” Brookes had thought this was just clever talk when he heard it, but now it was strangely calming as he sat in his disheveled bed.

The next two weeks seemed to be the longest of Brookes’ life. Every day following school, he would take the long way to the bus lot, passing the practice rink. There was a bulletin board split in two; Junior Varsity on the left, Varsity on the right. Each day as he turned the corner into the long hall that connected the rink, he felt his pulse quicken and could barely restrain himself from sprinting down to the board. Yet today, Brookes could see two sheets of paper tacked to the board…and today, his legs didn’t seem to feel like moving, much less running.

“You good, Brookes?” The familiar voice of his middle school coach snapped him back to reality. “You catch the finalized rosters yet?” Brookes could only shake his head. His coach gave him a smile, patted him on the shoulder, and headed off to the rink. What did that mean?! A consolatory gesture? A congratulatory one?? Pull yourself together! Right as Brookes took one step forward, a group of upperclassmen jostled passed him toward the rosters. He pulled up short and listened as they razzed one in their group for failing to make Varsity for the third year. As their teasing faded in the distance, Brookes stepped up to the board. His gaze quickly skimmed the right column. At this point, his heart felt like it had decided to migrate to his head, each beat deafeningly loud in his ears. Name after name, down, down, down the list he went until…there it was. There. It. Was!

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