I have been high jumping for 8 years now, but I never excelled until my second year of Junior College. I never dreamed I would have been the best high jumper in the state, and definitely never dreamed of being recruited to UCSD to compete for them. However, my experience on the UCSD team gave me sobering outlook on the sport.
The workouts and coaching were drastically different, and I was immediately apprehensive that the program would not aid in excelling me to the level I wanted to be at. I never felt comfortable around my coach, I felt we never really clicked because we disagreed about what we thought was best for my jumping. I also developed crippling shin splints and patellar tendonitis—both entirely new injuries to me. The combination of injuries, doubt in the program and coach took a huge toll on my mentality and confidence in my abilities. My first season competing on the UCSD team was a disaster. I was slower, clumsier, and not as in-tune with my body. My legs as well as my confidence were destroyed. I came back for the 2013-14 year ready to turn things around, but the same problems arose, and my coach and I recently (and mutually) decided it was best I walk away from the team.
My experience on the UCSD team did teach me a lot about high jumping. For me, every aspect of doing the sport adds up to how I will perform. I now know what works for me and what does not. I jump best when I have become as physical fit as possible: lots of running, minimal (but effective) lifting, a coach I can click with, and a balanced diet. None of these things happened at UCSD. As for jumping itself, I basically learned through failure. Seeing a totally different way of coaching and how it affected my performance helped me understand my body and how I train better. I leaned that I should not be doing short, explosive sprints like the UCSD program, but rather long intervals of running to help me stay lean. This helps my rhythm and makes me more aware of my body. I plan to return home and train with my old coach, as he recognizes what needs to be done to help me jump high. Knowing that I will be in good hands automatically helps my confidence return, a huge component in the high jump.
I am extremely disappointed and upset with the way things turned out with the UCSD team, and even writing about it makes me feel sad. But it helps me to further understand the steps that need to be taken in order for me to return to the level I was once at. In some ways, I am thankful that I was able to have the opportunity to experience this disappointment, because I learned so much from it. I think it humbled me and made me a more well-rounded athlete.