It wasn’t until I found myself in the Turkish airport, walking past a bookstore that I came across the title of a book which completely put me back on track. It read, “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be,” by Paul Arden. It’s probably one of those best-selling airport books because it’s an easy read that captures your attention and questions your motives, and for me, it was exactly what I needed. I asked myself, how good do I want to be? Where do I see myself? Is this where I want to be? I flipped through the book and read one chapter entitled, “Getting Fired Can Be A Positive Career Move.” That was it. A defining moment. For me, this was the career move I needed. As much as I didn’t want to be ‘let go’ from my first job in Professional Sports, I wasn’t even happy there anyway. Maybe this was what I needed, Turkey wasn’t right for me at that moment in time and I needed to be in a place that would allow me to thrive as a rookie.
My next stop, Puerto Rico. Although I had offers initially and had turned them down to play in Turkey, I am so grateful that they were happy to pick me up again. I signed to Criollas de Caguas, after journeying for almost 24 hours across the world and arriving on the island. The first day I arrived I was greeted with open arms, and told that I could take a day or two to adjust to the time change and relax from my flight. The whole community was eager for my arrival, and my teammates and staff were more inviting than I ever could have asked for. Although I was not confident yet, I took a sigh of relief. It was refreshing to feel wanted again. And with the sort of encouragement I needed, I knew I could get back to my high level standard of volleyball.
I jogged out on the court with my new red volleyball uniform on as the announcer yelled, “Numero qatource, Savanaaaaah Leeeaaf”. An echo of claps and cheers rang throughout the arena, and I ran out to give high fives to my new teammates. Although no transition is an easy one, this change brought a new positive light to playing professional sports. I felt a different sort of determination, and began training every morning, just so that I could perform at my best not only for myself but for the people that had worked so hard to provide me with this opportunity.
My mum told me the other day, “If anyone is good at adapting to change, it’s you. You have had 3 different head coaches at University, and each year in high school you went to different clubs. You know how to handle this.” She was right, I needed to stop moping around telling myself, “I can’t do this” because really I have done this, and I will continue to have to do this so I may as well get good at it. I know that with my enthusiasm and relentless fight I will achieve the goals I have set out for myself playing professional volleyball. And with this motivation, I will continue to build on the confidence that I am creating for myself.