In the late 1980’s I had a writing assignment with a tennis professional that was funded by Wilson, the company that makes tennis balls. It seems that they had developed a tennis ball that could equalize enjoyment of a tennis match between two players of very unequal ability. When the ball was hit hard and directly (as in a shot from a strong player) it would react with a slow and low bounce as it hit the court on the other side. This would give the weaker player an easier shot to return. It seemed an amazing product.
The project lost funding and never made it to the marketplace, but some of the lessons I learned while writing for that project stuck with me. For one, I learned a very different meaning for the word “compete” than I had usually considered.
The word, compete, comes from Latin competere, “come together,” but in later Latin, it developed the sense “strive together,” which was the basis for the English term. During the field testing of the Wilson tennis ball, when players considered the “strive together” meaning of competition their reported enjoyment of the game and tennis in general was 7 and above (on a scale of 1-10).
Just yesterday I read a post by elite water athlete, Candice Appleby, after a Round 3 loss in the 2013 La Torche Pro surf event in France. Understandably, she was extremely disappointed with her performance. In spite of a very stacked heat with three of the top women surfing together, she simply and graciously reflected on her own performance and frustration at not putting together a “solid ride” in the heat.
According to Candice, “Every wave I caught, just seemed to reject me and I kept falling. Looks like my Sup Surfing World Title dreams will just have to wait until next year. 2013 just hasn’t been my year I guess. Maybe God is trying to tell me something. Hopefully I can figure out what that is soon. Until then, I’ll just have to keep healing my hand and work on my strengths. Thank you to everyone who has been cheering for me along the way. Your support means so much to me. Next year I will be back and ready to take on the many challenges I set for myself. Congrats to all of the girls who competed in this first year of the Women’sStand Up World Tour. We were all a part of history. Aloha & God Bless.”
We all know that it isn’t easy to report to friends, family and fans after a huge disappointment. To do so with such grace and respect for her fellow competitors is an Appleby trademark. In my role as content creator for my company, Water Words, I speak to dozens of elite and not-so-elite SUP surfers, paddlers, newbies and racers each week. It is always surprising and cool to hear how many mention a casual meeting with Candice at a clinic, an event or just on a beach. Again and again I hear an anecdote about how she has encouraged and inspired them – often without knowing who they are. Her generous spirit and fun-loving ways just seem to connect again and again.
What I wonder is: How did the performance of the entire group of elite women raise to a collective higher level because they “came together” in the competition, all striving for their best?
Working hard, training and hoping for a specific outcome or title is natural. Not attaining the goals we set for ourselves in a competition is heart breaking. Being able to circle back and put together a mindset that embraces the true meaning of compete, to strive together, we are able to frame our future efforts in a new way. The almost 40,000 Facebook friends who follow Candice know her attitude well. Some of the comments posted demonstrate how much respect and love for our sport and for fellow competitors resonates with us all. I have removed the names from the comments below and have paraphrased them – they are just an example of how the collective “we” reacted.
Tough break, tough girl, classy post. You may not have accomplished everything on your list, but your list towers over 99.999% of most people’s. Take comfort knowing you are much-loved & very well-respected around the world. “Paddle on girl”
Losing is just like winning at the top. Being humble and accept what you just got schooled on will only make you better tomorrow, next week and your next event. There is nothing in your world you can’t concur, wins come in many different forms and your friends believe you’re a winner.
Love your positive attitude! That’s what makes you a winner! Love and aloha to our SWEET girl!! XOXOXO
You are my inspiration.
You’re still awesome….I’m sure all competitors were aware of your presence….a true warrior you are
- You are awesome for being a class act!!! Still holding your head high and not placing blame on anyone. Keep up the professional attitude.
- Thank you for writing this Candice. It inspires us all to hear how you feel and that everyone, even Candice Appleby, has their moments. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Rest up and see you next year…can’t wait:)
- Your grace in handling life is a great example…………
- You suited up, you showed up, you did your best. High five!