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Sep 19, 2017

“My doctors didn’t think I could walk.” Krystal Rivers was born with multiple birth defects including tethered cord syndrome, and has pushed through her life to become one of the top performing volleyball players in the country. Rivers describes her story as one of a pure “keep going,” mindset. No one thought she would be able to walk normally, let along play sports.

“My doctors always told me, ‘Do what you can,” and to me, that meant to do everything.”

In 10th grade, Rivers underwent a urostomy which forced her to wear an artificial bladder on her side. Her surgery and diagnosis helped her miss the first 2 years of high school volleyball tryouts. Her junior year however, she was determined to learn. Knowing she didn’t have the resources for outside help, Krystal taught herself the best she could simply by hitting a ball against a wall every day. This self-taught athlete would come in 2nd in the country in kills in the 2016 NCAA volleyball season by never letting her circumstances get the best of her. “It’s about taking your destiny into your own hands and trying to control it as best as possible.” Rivers received a full academic scholarship to the University of Alabama where she would walk on to the volleyball program knowing she was going to do the best she could to help the team, no matter what position that was in.

After red-shirting her freshmen year, Rivers would find out in the beginning of the 2014 spring season that she had cancer; Hodgkin lymphoma stage 3. For the next 6 months, the stud athlete would undergo weekly chemo treatment in addition to college volleyball practices, workouts, and a full class load. Her mindset was simply, “I can and I will.”

“You’re going to have obstacles in life, everybody is, whether they’re small or large there are going to be obstacles. It’s about you facing them head on and saying, ‘Okay, what’s on the other side of this and how do I get there.’”

On top of physical obstacles, Rivers also struggled with performance anxiety. The game was getting bigger than her and she was starting to feel everything going the wrong way. Krystal quickly realized that like everything else in her life, she could overcome this obstacle as hard as she overcame everything else.

We hope you enjoy this podcast as much as we enjoyed recording it. Let this episode be a source of motivation to those who think they are too down to get back up.

For more information on The MindSide: Sports and Performance Psychology, visit:

www.themindside.com