Dear NIRA Athletes,

Where do we begin in this time of unprecedented crisis and uncertainty? We as student athletes must look deep inside to find self-refection of all that is happening around us. The college rodeo season has been cut short due to a pandemic completely out of our control, so how do we accept that and move on? How do we keep a positive outlook with the new normal of remote learning, leaving our friends, coaches, instructors, and institutions behind? We must rely on ourselves for strength and depend on our faith that the world will return to normal.

What we can control is our attitude. We must focus on strengthening our craft and mental toughness. We can use this down time to make us better- no only on the arena, in life, but in the classroom as well.

Practice all things with purpose. Our brain is like any other muscle and we must train it daily to maintain its ability to perform the highest level. Mental toughness is a skill that can be practiced just the same as roping the dummy. We have to look that this new challenge as an opportunity to strengthen our mental game. Set up runs or rides in your mind, so when the opportunity comes for you to be able to compete you are ready. Have faith is your abilities and in the mental training of your mind to know what it feels like to make that perfect run or ride and WIN.

[Shop: Mental Toughness]

Inner Game if Tennis

Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence 

The Winning Edge with Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper 

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Just like in the arena mentally preparing yourself for the classroom is equally as important to a strong mental capacity. Find the things in everyday life that give you confidence, is another tool to help your mental game. Make a daily to do list and CRUSH the list! Prioritize your assignments in all of your classes, give yourself a time line and get the job done. Yes, the JOB. Being a student is your JOB. It is just as much a part of the process to your success as winning in the arena is. It is the most important part of this collegiate journey. Push yourself to do more and succeed with winning grades. The skills you learn in the classroom will only help you in the future to become the strongest version of our self. Small accomplishments will help you to achieve a positive mindset.

[Read: Heart of a Champion]

Despite what COVID-19 has taken away from us, we must focus on all the things it has brought back into our lives. It has given us time. Time spent with our parents that we would have never had before, time to ride that colt that is behind, time to clean out the trailer that you have been putting off and time to work on your flaws. Time to focus on fitness and time to self-reflection. Your mental success is in your hands and no one else’s. Push yourself, find your new routine and grind every day to transform into the best version of yourself. This is just another test of mental toughness.

[Read: Junior Nogueira's Mental Edge]

[Read: Mastering Team Roping's Mental Game]

There is a struggle every day, don’t let something out of your control, control your mental game. Find the problem and push through it to help raise you to the level you want to be at. Be thankful for the opportunities that are given to you every day, be thankful for the opportunity to have a year of eligibility back, be thankful for health, check on each on virtually and stay safe. 

Linsay Rosser Sumpter

Coach, Otero Junior College Rodeo 

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