(This blog was posted here recently by Cassidy Lichtman, an NCAA All-American at Stanford and a member of the USA National Women’s Volleyball team. She wrote it after pouring her heart and soul into making the 2016 Olympic team…and falling agonizingly short. It captures her huge disappointment in not being selected, and a tremendous amount of wisdom for any athlete dealing with the inevitable ups and downs of playing sports, and life (when she was 9 doctors told her she would never walk again.) We here at the Changing the Game Project are proud that we have inspirational athletes like Cassidy representing our country, and honored that she let us share her blog here with you. Enjoy)
I’m not going to the Olympics.
This is the reality of our sport and the story you don’t see on TV—we have 25 players on our Women’s National Team and we can only send 12. We’ve all trained, all made sacrifices, all worked for years together knowing the whole time that there’s a chance we won’t see our names on that final roster. But knowing what we’re getting into doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. I think it probably always will.
In the week or so after I learned I wouldn’t be in Rio I was sad and I cried but more than anything else I felt lost. Adrift. Like I had been on a four-year long voyage and we were finally nearing our destination when someone told me—actually, you don’t need to go the rest of the way. After four years of focusing solely on navigating this path, it was just over. I had put my heart into this and I just didn’t know how to take it back out.
But at some point, as the days have gone by, I realized that I’m still me. Being an Olympian would’ve changed my life but it never had the power to change me. Who I am has already been defined, not by the rosters I’ve made or the medals hanging in my room, but by the way I tried to approach every day—ready to work, to learn, and to serve my team in any way I could.
I gave everything—everything—I had, in the pursuit of this dream. And I say that not with bitterness but with conviction and with pride. I don’t regret one moment of it and I will not hang my head. Because dreaming big dreams, going all in and then falling just short doesn’t make you a failure. The failure lies in holding back and staying small.
So half of my teammates and I will watch from afar as our Olympic team goes after a medal in Rio. And I absolutely hope that they get it. This is my family. They represent everything that we’ve built and struggled for over the last four years. I love them, I wish them all the success and I will forever be grateful to be a part of Team USA.
And as for me—this isn’t where my story ends. This was just one chapter. One surreal, challenging, fantastic chapter. Now it’s time to write the next one.
(If you are inspired by Cassidy’s words, please share with an athlete you know that is dealing with disappointment, and leave us a comment below)