Lessons from Lauren Chamberlain

by Krystal Harris

Krystal Harris is an all-star member of the Good Athlete Project. She provides incredible insight to both our Podcast Committee and our Education Resource Committee. By day, Krystal is a softball coach and Alumni Relations Manager at Saint Viator High School (Arlington Heights, IL). Before joining the Project, she played college softball at Saint Mary’s (IN), where she graduated with a degree in Business Administration.

Krystal recently responded to Episode 108 of the Good Athlete Podcast, which featured NCAA National Champion and Professional Softball Player Lauren Chamberlain.

Lauren Chamberlain is one of the most decorated softball players of all time. In college, she led the Oklahoma Sooners to the 2013 NCAA National Championship during one of her 4 All-American campaigns. As a senior, she hit her 95th career homerun, making her the most prolific slugger in NCAA history.

Chamberlain fulfilled a dream to play professional softball the following year, when she was drafted #1 overall by the USSSA Pride of National Pro Fastpitch (NPF).

Below are Krystal’s biggest takeaways from our podcast with Lauren, and what those ideas made her think about. You might notice an important theme…

Krystal Harris’ takeaways from the Lauren Chamberlain Podcast

Social Media Training

You put in countless hours for your sport, training your mind and body for the next challenge or competition. You know how to act in the gym, court, field, or rink, but it’s what you do off the field that matters most. If high school or college programs aren’t incorporating media training into their seasons, they need to. This last year has illuminated the blessings and traps that social media and media outlets have – coaches and athletes should keep this at the top of their minds.  

We hear the phrase ‘control the controllables’ all the time. But with media, it’s unpredictable. It’s not just about talking in front of a camera and answering a couple questions. It’s what you say or don’t say, it’s what you stand for and what you sit back on, it’s how you act when the cameras aren’t in sight or at least the ones you can’t see.  

An athlete’s social media presence stays with them forever. They can be pulled up later in life. Everything is on-the-record. Teaching young people to navigate the social media landscape will be an increasingly important role for the coach.

Positive Reinforcement

Start typing into Google “social media makes me feel” and look at the auto-filled searches below.  You know why social media makes us depressed, lonely, insecure, like a failure? It’s because we rely heavily on other people’s likes, comments, and follows to tell us how we should view ourselves. 

Some players thrive off positive reinforcement from their coaches when they make a good play or master a new drill. The same can be said about social media when you post something that makes you seem cool, trendy, or on top of the world. Those “likes” are social media’s positive reinforcement, triggering tiny dopamine hits that can literally become addictive.

There’s a better way. Before you post, think to yourself: if no one knew about this, would I still be proud of me? Take time to embrace that moment.

Take Time Away from Social Media

At the end of the day, your mental and emotional health is more important than other people’s validation. Take a couple hours a day or even a whole 24 hours each week to have a social media detox. You will realize how quickly your hand grabs for your phone or immediately enters an app without even thinking about it. How people respond to your posts or what others pick and choose about you are out of your control. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or maybe even scared, step away.  

Just take a breath. And step away.

Social media won’t miss you. Imagine if that was a friend of yours – if, when you left, they didn’t care or even notice you were gone, how good was that friendship in the first place? You might find that you’re better off without it (or at least less of it).

Identity after Sports

This is a constant struggle after you hang your cleats up for the last time. To say goodbye to the sport you dedicated most of your life to up to that point in your life is crushing. What am I without softball? What do I do now?  

Since sports have been on pause due to COVID, we see athletes, coaches, and professionals in sports having identity crisis, resulting in tragic outcomes. Athletes intertwine so much of their personal identity with their athletic careers, and rightly so. Dedicating everything you have to that sport is who you are…but it’s not all you are. 

You can still set ambitious goals. You can still strive for a title or an award. You can still conquer that next best thing, but maybe that next best thing is rest or a cheat meal or a night out with friends.  Maybe it is picking back up a hobby you put aside when you were competing.  You are so much more. Work to get in touch with the “you” outside of sports.

Thank You

Thank you to Lauren Chamberlain for sharing on the podcast and being so open and honest. I learned a ton and the conversation has allowed me to reflect on my own coaching process.

For more from Krystal, checker her out on Twitter: @Coach_KrystalH

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