Tina Edmonds – University of Maryland
The way I got into the Southwestern Advantage summer program is very different from the standard individual. I saw an ad in the newspaper one day on campus. I went to an information session, and knew that it was something I wanted to do. Playing field hockey for the University of Maryland, I came across many different types of opposition to participating in the summer program. The biggest one was my coach, being that I was on full scholarship and in the running to be on the U-21 team for the Junior World Cup that summer. That part actually led me to delay my participation in the program until I was finished playing field hockey. After winning two national championships, and earning All-American honors, I was ready to go. Unlike my field hockey endeavors, I chose to not prepare for my first summer, thus I literally met my student manager in sales school and had nothing memorized or prepared. I figured that since I had been a stellar athlete and accomplished everything I had set my mind to up to that point, then this shouldn’t be much different. The exciting thing was that it wasn’t. The not so great thing was that it was the first time in a really long time that I wasn’t good at something.
My first week is something that I’ll never forget. Before even going to sales school, I knew the Southwestern summer program was something I wanted to do for multiple summers. I knew it would help me pay for graduate school, which I was starting in the fall, and I knew I would be associating with the right type of people who would help me achieve my goals. My first week, I was pretty certain my dreams had been completely crushed and I would never be able to pay for school. I had never in my entire life, felt the amount of failure like I did that first week. My roommate that summer happened to be the number one person in the company the year before, so I thought I should be the same. After my first week, it was the first time in my life I was average at something. Yet to be average at something exceptional, still is above average. For me, it didn’t matter—I was still average. So I continued to work just like I did to become great in field hockey. It took until the 3rd week until I started to get the hang of it. Then I went to coach the National Championship for U-18 field hockey for a week, and that was the worst thing I ever did. When I came back, I felt like I had missed so much, and everyone else was doing incredible when I had to get back into it again. Yet, I focused on my effort and eventually was back up to par.
The biggest turning point of my summer was when I learned how to transition from working hard to working hard with a winning attitude. When practicing field hockey, I could do sprints for an hour and hate every minute of it. I would still do well on the sprints, but I was loathing doing it. In selling, I couldn’t loathe the people I was talking to no matter how I was feeling. I learned how to enjoy the people I was with, and become a student of the game. I also learned how to externalize failure and focus on the task at hand instead of worrying about the future or things I couldn’t control. This part changed my life.
I finished that summer number 40 in the company and able to afford grad school after all. Graduating this spring with my masters in Sports Psychology, I take the same principles I learned and help the athletes I work with improve their mental skills. I came back from my first summer and coached at UMass, where I was playing the best field hockey of my life. I currently have a 3.9 GPA, when in undergrad I struggled to manage a 3.2. I won two national championships, while being a research asst, TA, working two part-time jobs, prepping for GRE’s, and applying to graduate school—and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Prior to my first summer, I turned down a study abroad to England, collegiate coaching jobs, and a free apartment and bartending job in Huntington Beach, CA—and I wouldn’t change a thing. Now, I know for sure that I accomplish everything I set my mind to regardless if it is on or off the field.