I wanted to go to the Olympics in gymnastics. Not watch, compete. But I accepted when it didn’t happen. Because, at age 15, I had a devastating setback. I was tumbling in the gym and crashed on my head, knocked unconscious. After icing the lump on my head, my coach told me: “Take 3 days off.”   What!   Then, I went ‘mental’, really. I thought about it, what happened, got scared, and literally lost most of my tricks. I cried, got depressed, almost quit, but, decided to not give up… I was mysteriously led to a superhero sport psychologist, Ken Ravizza at Cal-State Fullerton and I came back.

Miracle, I swear. After 3-4 mos of sessions in mental practice (breathing, relaxing, visualizing), twice a week, two hours a day, and physically and mentally re-learning everything from scratch…4 months later…I won two USA Junior Olympic national titles.  I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Then I competed Elite for 2 years, which was nerve-wracking competing with Olympians like Mary Lou Retton and Kathy Johnson, but I loved the challenge. Bummer was I only ranked in the top 30 in the U.S. (not even close to the Olympics).

But soon, the University of Utah offered me a scholarship (Thanks, Marsman!). With my team pushing me, and another super sport psychologist, Dr. Keith Henschen (genius in building confidence), I became an NCAA 6-Time All-American, NCAA National Floor Champion, and luckily competed on 4 NCAA National Championship teams (met President Reagan, circa 1985). Later, Greg Marsden (or Marsman) called me back, and they inducted me into the University of Utah, Hall of Fame (huh, me?).

In my twenties and thirties, I coached at Stanford University. That was huge. We broke every school record, placed 2nd at Pac-10s (now Pac-12), I coached some wonderful All-Americans, and the team placed in the top 10 at NCAA Nationals. I also won an NCAA coaching award, spoke on the Positive Coaching Alliance panel on sports ethics, and addressed a speech to the Stanford Athletic Board about coaching future champions at Stanford. Not bad. I will say, being a Stanford coach taught me a lot – especially lessons from Bill Walsh, Tara VanDerveer, Richard Quick, and many other incredible coaches.

Since then, life moved forward: I have several sporty kids who are very independent, I’m single again, and I earned my Masters in writing. Now, I’m an author, speaker, and coach. I teach writing and coach athletes. I do speaking events for various audiences and professional groups. And sharing my knowledge and experience, well, I love it. The sweat, injuries, and tears. It was all worth it. And now, I get to tell you why… Thanks 🙂

Most humbly yours,

Lisa Mitzel

(or just “Mitz”)

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