After 11 years of appearing in the pages of this magazine, I suspect there are still a couple things you might not know about me. No. 1: I love reading The New York Times on Sunday mornings. No. 2: I hate snakes.
So it was a surprise to me when I found myself reading a Times article about snakes on a Sunday morning. The article highlighted the large number of (unnecessary) snakebite deaths among rural, poor populations across the globe, as well as ways to reduce the mortality rate from this neglected medical issue.
Surprise turned to delight when I found myself discussing this problem with fellow alumna Mary Ann Peters ’72, a career diplomat who was on campus in April for our Study Abroad Speaker Series. Ambassador Peters is also the new CEO of The Carter Center in Atlanta, which was founded to fight disease, hunger, poverty, conflict, and oppression around the world.
For a self-professed lifelong learner, these moments of serendipitous learning and sharing are a quiet joy in my life. Exposure to diverse sources of knowledge and opinions not only expands our horizons but makes us competent, conscientious, and compassionate people.
Where do you find unexpected wisdom? Did you know your alma mater not only was a great place to earn a degree but continues to be a place of pride, influence, and relevance? With that in mind, I am thrilled to announce SCU Illuminate, a new blog curated by the Alumni Association. Illuminate will showcase select University thought leaders writing on topics particularly relevant to you and our Santa Clara community. The goal is to inspire professional conversations and personal development alike.
Jerry Smith is the winningest women’s soccer coach in Santa Clara history and the executive director of the new Jerry Smith Coaching for Life Academy. He is also an Illuminate thought leader; below you’ll find an introduction to his insights about leadership and sport.
Read the rest of his first article for the blog and explore more bright ideas from other SCU thought leaders at scu.edu/illuminate.
So check out SCU Illuminate and prepare to be surprised, delighted, and educated. I just hope there aren’t any articles about snakes.
THE STRONGEST MUSCLE
By Jerry Smith
In my 27 years of experience as a Division I soccer coach, I’ve seen firsthand how habits and lessons learned in sports apply to many aspects of an athlete’s life. Learning how to find common ground and resolve differences with co-workers to achieve team goals, or learning to cope with performance anxiety when making a big presentation, are a couple ways mental skills training in sports can apply to one’s work. Watching Aly Wagner ’03 raise triplets while pursuing her ambitious career goals, I see her applying skills that helped us win a national championship: time management, mental toughness, resourcefulness, teamwork, communication, preparation, goal setting, and leadership.
A successful sports team is built on four pillars: tactical, technical, mental, and physical skills. Mental skills have typically been undervalued until recently. Instead, time is spent on X’s and O’s, skill acquisition, or strength and conditioning. The results of mental skills training may be harder to see than results in other areas, so many tend to somewhat ignore this area. However, the best coaches focus more time and energy on the mental pillar—developing leadership, mental toughness, goal setting, teamwork, communication, and stress management skills for our student-athletes. These will serve them well in the game—and in life off the courts and fields.
Read more at scu.edu/illuminate.