The Beta-lete File is a monthly profile that digs into the inner workings of the person at the source of competitive performance.
Team: USA FIELD HOCKEY
Status: 2X OLYMPIAN
The world knows her as Gonzo, a fiercely competitive, ridiculously skilled and whole-hearted champion from New York. This gal beat-boxes like JT, moves like Mick Jagger, and on the field, she dangles and dusts like Stephen Curry. The best thing about being her teammate - she tackles back like Don Beebe. Don't know who Don Beebe is? Well let me enlighten you - watch this.
Gonzo plays with no finish lines, because she is never out of the fight - until she tells herself that she is out of it. Praxis met up with the newly crowned captain of the rebuilt American squad to talk what it takes to tap in and go beyond what you think is possible.
PRAXIS: Describe yourself at your best - body, mind, competitive spirit, and connection with others.
GONZ: At my best I feel powerful, fluid, and quick. My mind is clear and action/ movements are involuntary. Just as I would easily breath air I make decisions and my body follows suit. My competitive spirit is front foot and animalistic, there are no doubts, there is nothing beyond the moment I am in. My connection with others is best described as electricity. Personally I operate best when energy permeates throughout a group. No words are spoken or needed our task is just understood and collectively chased.
PRAXIS: The most-fulfilling aspect of the competitive experience is . . . because. . .
GONZ: The most-fulfilling aspect of the competitive experience is accomplishing something your mind,body, or spirit deemed impossible because it proves that limits begin and end with you, you are the captain of your fate, your are the problem, and you are the solution.
PRAXIS: What 2-3 habits are critical to creating a fulfilling and sustainable competitive experience?
GONZ: Reflection, Resilience, Connection
PRAXIS: What moments are most challenging as an elite competitor? What gets you through tough moments?
GONZ: The moments I deem most challenging as an elite competitor are when I am mentally and physically exhausted. When I don't believe I can continue because I have overwhelming doubt and have placed limitations on myself. When I am tired and training becomes a chore rather than an opportunity/gift, these moments are challenging and test me to the core. What gets me through these moments are the ability to recall and identify WHY I am there and what is my purpose. After establishing that, I recommit to WHY it’s important not to quit and begin to find a solution. I find an actionable plan to not just survive but thrive. I use my teammates as an anchor, I use them to empower me and find strength. I also like to use humor and a light hearted spirit to get through grueling moments.
PRAXIS: What is the impact of self-awareness on your ability to learn, grow, and peak perform?
GONZ: Self-awareness is a difficult skill because it requires vulnerability. It requires you to be honest and real with yourself. It may require you to say “I made a huge mistake or I am the problem” and that is scary. If you are able to objectively reflect then the result should be identifying and understanding your personal patterns of habit. You will inevitable grow because you understand why you did something or why you shouldn’t. All of this to me is invaluable to performance. A growth mindset is about being better and to be better you have to admit you aren't perfect. It’s about removing your ego. I think of self -awareness as an equation. You must use growth, learning, and self awareness as a vehicle and the destination is peak performance.
PRAXIS: If there is one habit or area you’d like to develop in yourself that you haven't yet developed, what would it be? What would be the impact of that habit on your experience?
GONZ: The mind. My greatest strength and weakness are my emotions. I don't believe I have remotely mastered understanding how I can better control and utilize my emotions under stress, tension, and conflict. The impact of mastering my mind would mean I would be better equipped to handle more situations positively and in return would allow me to focus on elite performance.
PRAXIS: If there was one habit or area to develop in American athletes (and American sport) what would it be?
GONZ: The mind. As athletes from an early age we spend hundreds to thousands of hours and dollars on practicing skill,technique, play, nutrition, teamwork, and fitness but yet we so willingly neglect the power of the mind. You cannot deal with failure, pressure, stress, and conflict if you do not practice it on a regular basis. To me its an underdeveloped area if trained would generate great growth.