Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reflections of Olympic Gold

Written by Reid Priddy, Team USA + Team Sambazon

My name is Reid and I am a Sambazon Açaí fanatic! My Açaí story started in 2005 when I was introduced to it by my best friend's wife. It didn't take long before I had Juice It Up's number on speed dial. Açaí bowls became a staple in my diet and a perfect snack both before and after training, as well as for breakfast or a mid-day snack. I started taking nutrition and diet more seriously in 2007. Up to that
point, we were all under the impression that we just needed calories no matter what kind. I found myself playing at a high level through half of the tournaments but tapering off at the end of events. Once I discovered that choosing the right calories and foods was just as important as maintaining the number of calories, my energy levels sustained through entire tournaments.

This summer was a huge testament to that idea. We began with the World League tournament which is an 8 week long tournament. The tournament has 4 pools of 4 and each team plays the other 3 teams home and away through 6 weeks of pool play. Our pool consisted of Bulgaria, Finland, and Spain. That meant that each week we were traveling between different cities in America to cities abroad in Bulgaria, Finland and Spain. Not only that but we needed to be in top shape and form throughout the entire 6 weeks. Fortunately we made it out of our pool in first place and on to the World League Finals in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

With diet being such a huge key to success and energy within Athletics it becomes very frustrated with all the travel. When in Helsinki, Finland, we don't have too much control over what we have as options to eat. It becomes crucial to be able to pack certain "go-to's" to safeguard against bad food. There is too much on the line to not be prepared in this way.

Between the pool play and the Finals I hooked up with Scott Nemeth at Sambazon and he prepared two coolers full of product to ship down with us. It was a huge hit amongst the team! We dropped our first match, reevaluated and came back to win the entire tournament! It was so much fun. After that first loss our captain berated us about
not playing as a team. That is a concept that our head coach Hugh McCuteon has been preaching since he became the head coach. The concept that the whole is greater than the parts. To sacrifice personal agendas for the good of the group. I think that loss had a huge effect on what would take place both over the remainder of that tournament and into the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The United States has never won a World League title, so winning it this year really helped build momentum leading into the games. It is no secret that our team had to endure some serious obstacles, but the foundation that we had and the strength within the group helped us weather the storm, rely on each other and do what we know how to do best...compete as a team. As we were taking care of business on the court, the off the court rest, recovery and diet was a major focus for me. Beijing was no exception to the rule in terms of "wild-card food". It was equally important to have the go-to snacks. This time it was in the form of Sambazon Açaí powder! Life saver!

The Olympic Games were an amazing experience. Throughout my life I have often thought about what I would do if I won a Gold Medal. However, when that last ball was put away and the match ended, it was such an overwhelming emotion that I could do nothing but collapse on my teammates. One of the most special things for me was the camaraderie that we all shared. We had failed together and now we succeeded together. We bought into the TEAM concept and were now Champions because of it. I will never forget this experience, not just for the win but for all the life lessons I learned along the way. In our gym we talk a lot about PROCESS. Each practice, each match being a part of a process of trying to become master's of our craft. Now being on this side of this experience, I ponder what it would look like to apply these themes to other aspects of life. On to another journey by way of another process.

All the best,

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