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How Gratitude Shaped an All-American

A conversation with Macy Gordon

How Gratitude Shaped an All-American

“It’s the little things that make a big difference”. This is what Macy Gordon, Cal Poly beach volleyball alumna and incoming graduate student and beach player at Loyola Marymount University, said about her past season as a Mustang.

The practice of gratitude, a small yet essential part of her daily life, made a big difference in her performance on the court. This performance led to her being named a first-team All-American among many other accolades such as 4x Big West Pair of the Week and Big West Pair of the Year, both accomplished with her partner Emily Sonny.

But the external accolades didn’t phase Macy, who remained focused on the process during the entirety of the season. She said this year was different from past years because of the pandemic. She approached this season with extreme gratitude because last year the NCAA beach volleyball season got cut short, leaving her and many athletes feeling like they had unfinished business to take care of.

The repercussions of the pandemic also made Macy appreciate the competition aspect of beach volleyball. Competition gives athletes a purpose–it is difficult to train while not knowing what the future holds. In Macy’s case, the uncertain future encompassed whether or not there would be a season in 2021.

In addition, competition is the reward for training, and is where Macy is able to see her improvement from all the hours spent grinding day in and day out.

However, the silver lining of not having a season in 2020 is that it made the 2021 season that much sweeter.

“Being able to compete this season was a huge blessing and opportunity”

This mindset centered around gratitude came in handy during high pressure situations, since Macy was just grateful to be on the court competing. She was fearless while playing, and wanted the opportunity to be challenged, which in beach volleyball translates to her wanting to be served while in serve receive.

This “give me the ball” type of mentality made her more aggressive–something that is difficult to do in high pressure situations. But since she played with gratitude, she was able to play loosely and confidently.

Besides gratitude, another big difference maker in her game this past season was her faith in God. It gave her a place to put her identity, which made external rewards and accolades seem miniscule. She knew any beach volleyball reward would never fulfill her, so she kept her eyes fixed on something fulfilling and important–her faith.

Further, Macy said it didn’t matter what she achieved, rather it was about how she conducted herself and how she led her team. Being an All-American is something she wanted to accomplish, but she was never fixated on that outcome.

Gratitude and faith intertwined in Macy’s prayer life, as she “thanked God for the opportunity to compete and every moment in between”. This perspective made even the toughest losses easy to deal with, because Macy was just truly grateful for the opportunity to represent Cal Poly and the opportunity to compete.

Gratitude is a practice, and something that anyone can do. All it takes is discipline (plus a journal and something to write with). Macy’s advice on how to incorporate gratitude into daily routines is to “give yourself more time. Wake up 10 minutes earlier than you usually do or set aside 10 minutes before you go to bed”.

You’ll need a journal because Macy says that gratitude is most beneficial when one actually externalizes it and writes it down. So the first step to this practice is to designate a journal solely for writing down what you’re grateful for each day. The rest is simple– Macy suggests writing down five things you’re grateful for every day, and to get fun with it! For example, one thing Macy has written down is her waffle maker.

Writing down what you’re grateful for is not about being profound– as long as you’re honest and genuine it could be anything under the moon! Incorporate gratitude into your daily routine and get ready to reap the benefits on and off the court.

Follow Macy Gordon on Instagram at @therealmacygordon

Susie Lloyd


Summer Performance Lab