By Eric Tran
Do you remember a time where you had butterflies in your stomach, your hands were clammy, and your thoughts were racing through your head? These symptoms would usually kick in right before doing something incredibly important, for me, it was in football. I would absolutely dread the feelings that would overtake me before a big game. Now you’re probably asking yourself why I would put myself in this kind of stressful situation? Well, the “before” part is awful but once you’re in “the moment,” it’s incredible.
I played a lot of sports back in high school and my favorite one was football. I played running back and linebacker. If you’re not really a sports person, a running back is on offense and takes the ball from the quarterback and runs down the field. While a linebacker is on defense, standing behind the guys lined up on the floor, and waiting to tackle the ball carrier.
Now this anxiety I said I had before a game didn’t just appear out of nowhere, it’s something that builds up over time. All this begins during the offseason where I would train during the summer with my teammates and coaches. We would lift weights and run 3-4 days a week and finally practice with full equipment near the beginning of fall. This would be my routine for my four years in high school.
The most memorable game I had was the Fitchburg-Leominster game during my junior year. Although this was a Junior Varsity game, it was one of my favorites. Fitchburg vs Leominster is one of the biggest high school rivalries in Mass. The record between the two schools over the years have been close, 66-60-10 (as of 2017) with Leominster leading. We hadn’t beat Leominster in a few years, so this added more fuel to the fire.
I remember that day so perfectly. I didn’t get much sleep because I was too excited for the game. But once I got to the field house to get ready, my nervousness was starting to set in. My teammates were amped up, playing music, having a good time, and were ready to go. On the surface I was calm and collected, but I could slowly feel this pressure building from my stomach, to my chest, and all the way up to my head. I remember walking out of the locker room at 10 in the morning on that cool sunny day in November. Smelling the cold dew from the field and feeling my hot breath bounce off my visor attached to my facemask. As we were getting ready for kickoff, I felt like I was ready to explode with all this stress building, and I had a hundred thoughts running through my head. I thought about friends and family looking from the stands, the TV cameras broadcasting our every move, hoping I wouldn’t let my coaches and teammates down. But when the whistle blew, the ball was kicked, and I took my first step on that icy field, I was finally “in the moment.”