Notes from Monica Abbott’s speech

December 11, 2010 at 7:19 pm Leave a comment

We were so lucky to hear from Olympian Monica Abbott at the Young Ag Leaders Event today!  Here are some notes from the event:

When she was little, it wasn’t her choice to play softball.  She played because she had an older sister who wanted to play.  Her mother also played, and it became easy for her mom to take both Monica & her sister to practice.  Monica wanted to be like her sister, so she doesn’t object.  However, she found once she got out there, she wasn’t so good, which seems strange considering her accomplishments over the last few years.

Everyone has times they feel like they don’t belong.  Monica felt shy & awkward while her sister shined on the softball field as shortstop and pitcher.  Monica played right field some games and sat on the bench during others.  But over time, Monica began catching for her sister, which was not ideal for a right fielder.  Soon Monica decided to try pitching after some encouragement from her mom.   She began consistently practicing and striving for success.  She knew if she wasn’t putting in the time and effort necessary, even when others weren’t watching, she wouldn’t achiever her dreams.


Every day after school, Monica and her mother would go pitch.  At first she was pretty wild, losing balls, denting cars and bruising her mother.   Finally her mom said, “Monica, you know what.  You’re starting to get better.  You’re going to have to find your own catcher.  You need to find someone else.”  So Monica began looking for a great team, coach, and catcher to help her develop her pitching skills.  With persistence, she’d ask her coach to help her practice.  It was the dedicated time and guidance from her coaches over time that pushed her towards her dreams.

She wrote down her goals:  Olympian, professional softball player, record breaker.  And placed them by her bed.  She asked questions, and used the answers she received to help her grow and become stronger.  She continued looking for even more people to learn from.  Within her Communications major, she asked great speakers questions like, “How do you stay calm in front of 5,000 people?” and used the answers to help her stay calm on the softball filed.

After a successful college career, she was asked, “What are you going to do now?”  And she said, “Well, I’m going to be a professional softball player.”  She stayed focused, continued asking questions, and pursued becoming an Olympian.

At one point she asked a pro wrestler, “What are some things at the Olympics that were unexpected to you?”  He told her, “What I didn’t expect was – in my sport – weight is really important, and I’ve never had a problem keeping my weight.  I weighed myself before I went and was 3 pounds under, so I knew I’d be fine by the time I got to Australia for the 2000 Olympics.”  But what he didn’t realize was once he crossed the equator and got closer to the poles, he actually weighed heavier in Australia and had to lose 5 pounds in 4 days to compete.   When you ask questions, sometimes you’ll be surprised of what you didn’t know and can learn from.

Monica urges our YALE leaders to ask questions and to use them to achieve their goals.  She reminds them that one of the hardest things about asking these questions is the responsibility you take when you ask them.  You become a leader because you have a lot of information.  You have to hold yourself accountable.  Accountability is being out there when no one else is, because you’re holding yourself to that standard.  The only person who can hold you to the highest standard is you, so be accountable to yourself.  It comes back to your actions, and that’s what accountability is.

Anyone from any walk of life has a wealth of knowledge, and it becomes your responsibility to share your knowledge.  Monica encourages our young ag leaders to ask themselves what they can take back from our event to their communities and share.  She says accountability is having a presence.  Accountability is accepting failure.  It’s losing.  Monica says she hates losing, and she hates failure.  But she uses it to fuel her fire.

Monica tells her our ag leaders that when you ask these questions, you have the courage to do what so many don’t.   Take advantage of any opportunity to ask those questions and grow.   Share the information, and see what messages others take from the information you have.   Set goals, hold yourself accountable, and understand that goals can change over time.  But when you set goals, ask questions – easy questions, big questions, any question, the growth you can have as a person will be incredible and will help not only you, but those in the organizations you’re a part of you, your family, your friends, and those around you.

We so enjoyed hearing from Monica Abbott & hope you did too!


Entry filed under: NYFEA info, The National Institute 2010.

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