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Ashleigh Gunning Blog: Parallels of football and life

Ashleigh Gunning
Ashleigh Gunning

Ashleigh Gunning knows life as a women's soccer player is not about the glamor, but it has taught her valuable lessons.

I honestly believe that most of the important lessons in life can be learned through team sports, and in my life, specifically football (soccer).

It helps prepare you for future relationships, jobs, careers, dreams, and obstacles. I may look into this sort of thing more than others, but there’s a reason that we’ve all heard our parents tell stories from, “the good ol’ days” and that countless books, movies, and TV series have been based on this exact topic (Remember the Titans, Miracle, Friday Night Lights, etc.) and there’s always the big speech somewhere near the end of the storyline that tells the moral or lesson learned.

Then, because it’s Hollywood, there comes the perfect opportunity for the young actor to apply this specific lesson in real life. Well, this is one time that Hollywood isn’t exaggerating—we are all faced with the opportunity to apply the lessons we’ve learned through football in life. But, we have to get through the tough stuff first, the part where you are being stretched, challenged, and broken down. Only once fighting your way through do you experience the victory of growth.

We all need a bit of encouragement to help get through it…

You may not always get it right. You’ll make more than your fair share of mistakes, but you’ll learn. Learn some of those really hard lessons, the ones that change you and change how you see the world around you. But, in the end I am sure that you will be thankful… for those are the days that, once you make it through, an ironic change of events happen and those days then make you into who you are suppose to be.

I am not trying to say that I’ve had it hard. I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest dreams. But, I, just like each of you, have had darker days and obstacles to get through. Sometimes things don’t happen like I think they should. Sometimes things fall apart. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of all this… of football, life, the struggles and the dreams that don’t exactly come true. Here is my take on it all:

Smile. Even when it’s really hard, and it’s the last thing you think you can possibly do, do it anyways. When you are scared and uncertain of what tomorrow will bring, be optimistic. It takes a lot of courage to face the uncertainty of tomorrow with a smile.

Make the right decisions; the ones that will make your parents and yourself proud. People will doubt your motives. Heck, they will even doubt you—but make the right choices anyways. Some of these same people will be happy to see you struggle. Remember how that makes you feel, so you don’t do it to anyone else. Keep your head up. Don’t give up your fight. Don’t ever let someone or something make you doubt your heart’s desires.

It’s OK to cry. You’ll face few problems that a good cry, long nap, a warm meal can’t help. If all else fails find your safe place; mine is in a gym working out alone or in a kitchen baking. Yours might be in your favorite book, watching Forest Gump for the 80th time, or sitting on the beach listening to the waves. Go there.

Take a deep breath.

Space things out; don’t rush into big decisions—they aren’t going anywhere. This is also a great time to spend some time alone. Before you get everyone else’s opinion examine your own heart then take action. Ask for help and take advice. It may be hard on your pride to do it, but here’s a little secret, we all need it, so ask anyways. There are people in each of our lives who help us find the right path when we have wandered away, thank them for the guidance.

Lastly, if you are not sure, try one more time. I don’t think you’ll regret working a little bit harder, giving someone one more chance or spending another day on what might have been. But, when that time comes to move on, be confident, be strong, and don’t be afraid to look back a couple times to remember the joys you experienced. After all, at some point you’re going to look back at these moments and smile because you’ll realize that it was life, and you were living it!

It is more than just a game, and you were playing it.


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