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The Confident Athlete On Sale Now East High Hall Of Famer Tami Matheny Speaking Here Saturday

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Coach Tami Matheny

The key to winning? A positive mental attitude and balance.

Those are only six of the words of wisdom from Coach Tami Matheny who will be at Next Door Books on Thomas Street, Forest City, April 13. Her talk, reading, book signing gets underway at 11:30, but it will be standing room only so get there early.

Her emphasis on positive attitude is even found in the Good Book. She sometimes speaks in churches and when she does, she says, "A genuine strong Christian finds the positive in everything. Our brains are wired to find the negative, not every time, but we need to look for the positive whenever we can."

She was one of the first women in America to be named a Conference Coach Of The Year in a men's sport. She won that honor in 2003 when coaching both the men and women tennis teams at USC-Upstate in Spartanburg where she lives now. Part of that Coach Of The Year season included defeating the Lander University team which had won the conference championship 10 years in a row.

"When our guy took to the court, I said to him 'Refuse to lose' and he started shouting that during the match. Refuse to love. Refuse to lose. And he won. When I got ready to start my business, I said that would make a good name," she said.

Coach Matheny's refuse2losecoaching.com is her website, which can also be reached through refuse2lc.com. For parents on Facebook, she created a group called Parents and the Mental Game.

Her book is The Confident Athlete. It's on sale now at Next Door Books and wherever books are sold. She said writing and publishing the book got her outside her comfort zone as she had never seen herself as a good writer. "Lots of people I work with told me they needed something for times I was not around. I hoped another coach would help me with the writing, but his full-time work kept him too busy. When I told him I didn't think I could write it, since I've always struggled with grammar and punctuation, he said that didn't sound like a very good mental coach. So I wrote it."

Matheny was a standout basketball player for Lenoir-Rhyne where her record for three-point shots still stands. She was named the 1993 NCAA Woman Of The Year while at Lenoir-Rhyne. She had a stellar career at East Rutherford in both tennis and basketball and is in the East Hall Of Fame.

She travels nationally, most recently to Florida, George, North Carolina, DC, and Tennessee. She works with both college and high school teams as well as individual athletes to sharpen their mental game.

"If we put all our emphasis on the physical game, then we're not prepared mentally for when things go wrong." Confidence is a buzzword for this coach and motivational speaker.

Her famous father, former football coach and successful realtor David Matheny needs no introduction to readers of Rutherford Weekly, but when asked about her mom, she sent the following email: "My mom is Linda Harton Matheny. She grew up in Forest City and went to East as well. Her passion was being a career mom. Most of her life was spent taking care of her family. I learned a lot of what has made me successful in sports from Dad, but from Mom I learned what's most important and that's relationships. If we put the same energy onto into our rships as we put into other passions we are going to have a pretty good life that makes a difference. From her I have learned that rships (the lingo I use in my job) are greater than cships (championships) for without them championships aren't won. And that basically rships are what we are ultimately here for."

While most of her work is with athletes and coaches, she also does some work with businesses. She also occasionally works with parents. She laughed when asked about the overbearing parent who has more invested emotionally in the sport than the child. "I rarely have a parent come to me and say, 'Hey, I'm the problem.'" But she did say she often has to remind parents and younger athletes that balance in life is as important as desire, conditioning, all those factors normally associated with the successful athletes.

She did acknowledge that travel ball has become the norm in baseball and softball, so that athletes are basically competing year round. It's the rare player who can catch the attention of college scouts without playing travel ball. Burnout can happen. "Another problem is a lack of emphasis on winning or paying attention when losing. The mentality becomes: oh, we've got another game, oh, we've got another game. There's little time to stop and assess what might have gone wrong in a loss."

Among her favorite stories is about a softball team that had set an intention of winning a state championship. She had encouraged the players to visualize every game winning at bat, every game winning defensive play, to go to sleep every night with those thoughts on their minds, those visualizations playing in their heads.

The team split the opening two games of a three-game series. They were ahead 1-0 late in the final inning but the opposing team had scoring runners on base and one mistake would send them home without their cherished prize. The girl at bat knocked the ball deep into right field.

"Our right fielder tripped. She had not visualized it that way, but she reached out her arm and caught the ball over her head. That catch won the state championship. She told me later that after tripping, she would never have had the confidence to make that catch, but she said the practice, the visualization mentally had given her the confidence."

She added, "Visualization isn't going to work storybook every time, but it does help with confidence."

She said a coach has to have buy-in from players. "The best coach in America can draw the best play in America on a clipboard, but if he doesn't get buy-in from all five of his players, the play won't work. The worst coach in American can draw a bad play on a clipboard, and with buy-in from his players, it just might work."

Tami Matheny looks forward to seeing friends and family, and young athletes at Next Door Books on Saturday.

Contact Pat Jobe at patjobe13@gmail.com.

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