Practice Makes Perfect

Lottie - Hot Springs, Arkansas
Entered on October 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

“I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true, hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” Hard work is crucial to everyday challenges that everyone experiences. Whether it be in sports or in everyday activities, hard work and practice have helped me to achieve my goals.

On a hot Wednesday afternoon in July of 2000, I fell off a horse and was kicked in the head. I immediately slipped into a coma when I was rushed to the Odessa, Texas, Hospital. When I woke up two weeks later, I was unable to walk or talk. I was in a wheelchair for several months and had to learn how to do everything over again. I then had the choice of either being immobile for the rest of my life or having independence. I chose to be independent. I had to learn how to walk, talk, and use my hands again. I even had to relearn how to tie my shoe laces. Slowly but surely I learned how to be mobile and independent through the agonizing pain of a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

While I was in the hospital, I missed a few months of school, but I made it up by doing a reading project the summer of that year. I had to learn how to read again and even how to work simple arithmetic problems. Even though I got very frustrated, I learned how to do my schoolwork by practicing and working hard. Now I am even taking all honors courses in school!

In ninth grade, I joined the swim team, and it has been a grueling but rewarding experience. My first year on the team was extremely difficult because my coach had to teach me how to swim correctly. I really had to practice, practice, practice to get up to the speed that I’m at now. I couldn’t even compete at swim meets that first year because I couldn’t dive or do the proper turn.

My second year on the swim team was great! I learned how to dive and start off the block at swim meets, but I had to do open turns because I couldn’t do flip turns on account of falling of the horse in 2000. Even though I came in last in all of my events, it really didn’t matter because at least I was able to swim competitively, and I had fun doing it. Turning beat red in the face, my heart racing, and my legs feeling like jell-o are the signs of a good practice.

Standing up there on the block getting ready for my race to start, I have so much adrenaline. I can’t even describe it! I climb up on the block which is four feet above the ground and I am shaking because I am so nervous.

“Lottie, stop this, now. You’re gonna make yourself fall off into the water,” I keep telling myself when I’m up on the block after the embarrassing experience I had at my first meet when that actually did happen to me.

So I’m up there on the block where it feels like I’m a little ant that the whole colony is looking at.

“Swimmers take your mark….get set….,” then for some reason there’s a delay so the announcer says “relax,” and the other swimmers and I all relax and have extra time to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead of us, whether it be a simple 50 meter race or 500 meters. When everything gets organized again, we get in the diving position. “Swimmers, take ur mark…get set…go!” There’s also a loud buzzer that takes some time getting used to that goes off when the announcer says ‘Go.’

I hesitate for a second from the shock of the buzzer, and when I dive into the water, my goggles fall off, but nevertheless I still have to finish the race, for me and for my team. Then I reach the bulkhead, where I have to turn around (which I do by performing my open turn) and I swim back as fast as I can. I get a little choked up because I inhale some water (I recommend that swimmers don’t inhale but exhale)! I have ‘taken on water’ as Coach says! I am completely and utterly exhausted when I finish my race. When the meet’s over, the team and I usually sleep on the way back to school (unless it’s a meet close to home).

This year is my third year on the swim team. I practice every day for an hour and a half so I can build up the endurance I need to be able to swim, and hopefully this year I can learn how to do flip turns so I can swim faster. It’ll take a lot of practice, but I can do it if I set my mind to it and don’t give up.

This past weekend, I went to Louisiana to help clean up after a hurricane that recently hit the Gulf Coast. For that, I needed a lot of strength to be able to lift the debris and move it. Throughout the past eight years, I have built up muscle from pushing myself in my wheelchair, from learning and practicing different sports with my brother, and from swimming. It took a lot of hard work and diligence to build that strength so I can help others.

Throughout all of these trials, I have come to believe that perfection comes not from doing everything right, but from practicing to be able to do things right. Yes, it may be hard and painful, and it may take a lot of patience, but it’s worth it when I achieve my goals. Look at Michal Phelps! He didn’t get where he is today from being lazy. He is where he’s at in his life because he took the time to practice. If I didn’t persevere through the therapy, I know I certainly would not be where I am today. Hence, I believe that if you practice to achieve something, you will receive perfection.