by Stephanie Labbé
Stephanie Labbé’s recipe for success consists of ambition and positive thinking. Her personality is shaped by her inner peace. Her performance is based on her meticulous consistency. Her philosophy for best results on and off the pitch: breathe deeply.
My alarm goes off. It’s not the typical fire-truck siren that a lot of apple users have. I prefer not to wake up stressed with an increased heart rate. I calmly roll over, hit stop and open my eyes to my dog, Rio, sleeping on the floor (like an angel) on his bed. Rio is almost 3, and the perfect mix of French Bulldog, Boston Terrier and Pomeranian.
My mouth breaks into a light smile as I see him sleeping so peacefully. He pops up, jumps onto the bed and the morning cuddles and kisses begin: one of my favourite parts of the day. My mind is clear and it’s just me and my pup. A couple minutes later, he jumps off the bed and sits by my door and looks back at me. Okay, okay. It’s time to get up.
I stretch fully and sit up with some aches and soreness. It’s rare that I wake up without some tightness and stiffness. The years of training and playing at a high level takes a toll on the body. Each morning is when I feel it the most. My legs swing off the bed and it’s time to start the day. First things first, make coffee. As it’s brewing, I make something for breakfast. Usually some oatmeal or granola and yoghurt, topped with fresh berries. If I’m on it the night before, I have some overnight oats that I’ve made the night before. I take my first sip of coffee and feel at peace.
I take time while drinking my coffee to read or watch news, call or text my girlfriend depending where in the world she is and if she is awake too, and do the inevitable quick scroll through social media. It’s time to take Rio out for his morning walk. I open the door and his instantaneous excitement is infectious. With fresh air, warmth of the sun, and Rio’s tail wagging, we are both in pure bliss. The stillness and pureness of these morning moments are what keep me grounded throughout the day.
Twenty minutes later and it’s back inside. Someone has to go to work. I take another few sips of coffee if there is any left, get changed, brush my teeth and get my sh*$ together. Before I walk out the door, I have my usual words with Rio, “don’t worry little man I won’t be long, just practice then I’ll be back before you know it”. I know he definitely understands every word I say ;) I drive six minutes to training and walk into the locker room.
I get changed into my training gear, then head into the trainer’s room and grab a heat pack. It goes on either my low back, hips or shoulders, whatever is feeling like it’s needs the most TLC. Feeling the warmth of the heat settling in, I chat with other girls in the room and begin to mentally prep for the session ahead. After 10 minutes I head into the activation room and begin my activation by foam rolling and stretching. As I get my body more prepared for high intensity work, my mind begins to focus, to dial in.
I’m physically ready and mentally prepared. I tie up my boots, grab my gloves and head out to the field with the rest of the girls. We continue our activation on the field with higher intensity exercises, band work and light jogging. Coach brings the team together and gives an overview of the session ahead. We break. As I walk over to the goal with the other keepers, I smile. I pull on my gloves, right before left, always. As I grab the strap on the right hand I look down at it. “Breathe Deeply”, it says. I take a few controlled deep breaths, smiling with each exhale, and I know I am ready.
This is my happy place. This is my zone. This is where I am free, and my breath will always bring me back to this place, to my feet on the ground, the smile on my lips, the beating in my chest, pure presence…
Stephanie Labbé is goalkeeper of the Canadian women’s national football team. Soccer, as they say in Canada, has been her passion since she kicked a ball for the first time. Get to know her better and check out her uhlsquad profile.