Walsh Jennings, Sweat Continue Thriving in Ostrava With Resilient Mindset
Photo credit: FIVB
Since retiring from his career as a Navy SEAL in 2010, after 20 years in the service, Jocko Willink has become one of the most recognized voices in both the audio and print worlds, doubling as a podcast host and sought-out guest while authoring or co-authoring six books, all of which have been smash hits.
One of his most well-known sound-bytes is from a podcast he recorded in January of 2016, an episode most-often referred to as “good.”
“One of my direct subordinates,” he said, “would call me up or pull me aside with some major issue that was going on and say ‘Boss we got this or that and the other thing!’ And I would look at him and say ‘Good.’
“Finally, one day, he was telling me about some issue he was having or some problem, and he said ‘I already know what you are going to say.’ And I said ‘Well what am I going to say?’ And he said ‘Well, you’re going to say ‘Good.’ That’s what you always say. When something is wrong or going bad, you always say ‘Good.’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah. There’s going to be some good that will come from it.’”
It’s a mindset that seems to be quite popular among high-performers. And while little, if anything, is going wrong for Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat at the current moment, it’s not to say that any of it has been easy.
The two have been on the road nearly a month now, after taking intermittent trips to Australia, Malaysia and China. In the past few weeks alone, they’ve traveled to Brazil for a single-elimination country quota, only to be rewarded with a single-elimination qualifier, only to be rewarded with a brutal pool play draw. And then they had to do it again, in Jinjiang: single-elimination qualifier followed by brutal draw followed by brutal elimination round after brutal elimination round.
And her and Sweat are at it again. On Tuesday, despite winning gold in Jinjiang, their first as a team, they had to play a pair of country quota matches. Then a pair of qualifier matches. They had to do it on jet-lagged and exhausted legs with more matches on them than any in the quota or qualifier.
Walsh Jennings’ response, in effect?
“Teams are scouting us, and we can see them making adjustments, and Brookie and I have to adjust mid-game or mid-match,” Walsh Jennings said. “It’s actually kind of a blessing because it’s making us get better, faster.”
Some could see it as a burden, those extra matches, those detailed scouting reports, the more analytical strategies against Walsh Jennings and Sweat. They choose to see it as fortunate. The result has been one of the most expedited rises in the ranks of beach volleyball, faster, even, than Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum’s blindingly quick ascent a year ago.
Their win in Jinjiang puts them second in the Olympic points rankings and first among Americans. In the overall FIVB rankings — Olympics points rankings are a total of the best 12 team finishes from the beginning of Olympic qualification until the end; FIVB rankings are determined by the eight best team results in the past calendar year — they have moved to 13th.
Soon, at the going rate, anyway, country quotas and qualifiers will be a distant memory, as will be their initial finish as a team. Sweat may not have necessarily been ready to play in Las Vegas in October, but there wasn’t much choice in the matter. A seventeenth is what they came away with. A baseline was set, the first brick in what is rapidly becoming a dynamite foundation.
Four podiums have followed. Heading into main draw in Ostrava, they’ll be riding a 10-match win streak. They’ll be doing all of this in spite of an uphill climb much steeper than many of their counterparts, both domestic and international. They’ll be doing this with as much credit due to their physical games as their mental fortitude.
“Jet lag is kind of like the wind on the beach,” Walsh Jennings said. “It doesn’t discriminate. It’s tough on everybody.”
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