By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy
#20 Practice your habits, and remember that you must practice a habit daily for between 21 days to three months before it will become part of your daily routine.
The past months have been very hard. With the school year beginning shortly, appeared to be promising year. The kids arrived back to school excited about setting and accomplishing new goals, objectives and dreams. There was a healthy and renovated vibe here at ESIS and ASC.
However, things changed suddenly when one of the early traveling teams (competition groups) traveled to the Caribbean to compete in some tournaments and get some ITF points. Competing in these tournaments allows players to play during the rest of the year at the ITF tournaments, as well as receive excellent options of being considered by college coaches. Of those kids, there was Casper. Casper had arrived from summer break with a substantial bump on his knee, suffering severe inflammation on it leading him to barely be able to walk. When arriving to Naples, we took him straight to the doctor and had them take him for an MRI. During that same afternoon, the radiologist called us, informing us that it was possible that these symptoms could be associated with four different diagnostics.
Out of everything the doctor said, his last sentence and his tone still echoes in my ears: “This boy should be with his parents as soon as possible”. I was paralyzed; out all the kids here, this kid and his family are the closest to me. Therefore, I knew I had to pick up the phone and find the inner courage to talk to them about the news I received earlier that day, regarding their son Casper. I remember it was a Wednesday afternoon and it was impossible for him to fly home that night; therefore, I had to be careful with what and how I told them the news, since their son wouldn’t be arriving home to Spain for at least another two days. I explained to them that he had to undergo an urgent surgery, but without giving them any further details. I was heartbroken when I had to finally give them the full news that next day, a few hours before Casper was to land in Madrid.
The first thing I did was go to Google and type in Ewing’s Sarcoma. It showed me that it was a bone tumor that forms on both the bone and soft tissue, and can often occur during the development stages, for young adults between the ages of 15 and 17 years old. Statistics say that one in every 4 million kids is diagnosed with this disease. Reading this, the tears began to roll down my cheeks, and my heart felt irreparable. I kept saying, Why? Why Casper? Why my friends?
When he arrived back to Spain, he was treated by the best oncologists in Madrid; there they confirmed the diagnosis and he began his journey with chemotherapy treatments.
In the beginning, we decided to just tell the news to the coaches and staff. Later on, we finally decided to inform the students, who were curious to know when Casper would be back. As months went by, the students realized that they couldn’t ignore the absence of their classmate and how much they missed his charisma and competitive heart. He was the kid who enjoyed competing more than anyone and who fought hard on the court. He is a born leader and was the one that others looked up too. One of his virtues is that he is a natural born tennis player who believes that everything is possible if you just work hard for it.
Normally the quotes I write about, talk about adversity and are about athletes that want to compete better. However, today I want to dedicate this quote to Casper and his family, and acknowledge what a challenging tennis match they are forced to play. The hardest of their lives, where creating new habits to reach the Ideal state is key to win such a hard rival. The love of his mother, who has stayed by his side every minute since then; the support of his father, who has been maintaining the balance and equilibrium; the rest of the family who are fully supporting them to give them strength and make them able to face this rival. Love, positivity, euphoria, laughter, support, all that gives you the strength to break the barriers and attain unexpected goals. That’s the reason why we are certain that Casper will win this match, because he is a warrior. He’s a warrior that will use all his tools against the adversary, and will take full advantage of the new habits he has developed to fight and in the end will succeed.
His classmates wanted to make their contribution and show him their love and support. The student council formed by River, Lucas and Jake with the support of the student council supervisor Mr. Meehle decided to create an event to raise funds for him. They also talked to Mr. Cook, the leader of our Tennis Club members. They wanted to raise funds to help him and his family to be able to afford the high expenses of his treatment. After several meetings and hard work, the students and tennis club members helped set up a great event on April 5th where the students played tennis with the donors and helped with organizing a silent auction. Included in the auction were jewelry, artwork, tennis racquets and balls signed by Federer, Nadal or Verdasco. Besides ATP player Feliciano López, also friend of Casper’s family, came and played an exhibition match. It was a remarkable day. The students also had to face adversity by, getting out of their comfort zones to organize a real-life event. To do that, they seeked involvement from all of us, in order to make possible a day we will never forget.
That day Casper and his family were deeply moved and sent along messages of thankfulness, love and astonishment, feeling the love and acknowledgement after all those months of doubt and pain. Casper knows that his second home is his school in the US, and can’t wait to come back to thank his friends personally.
We face some months ahead of fight, they have to keep on creating habits and the ideal state to compete. Casper will have to be strong; I’m certain that he will be able to use the same skills that he used on court, such as when he was losing and he set his mindset to win. Doctors are surprised to see how well he is managing all the torment of tests, surgery and treatments that he is undergoing and they are certain that thanks to the habits he earned while playing tennis, that he will be able to play this match much better. And what habits can he use? Starting by the discipline, followed by the rigor of what to eat and how to hydrate and even the habit of thinking that everything is possible, that is how he will be able to achieve anything. According to scientists, the mental state is the key to facing adversity, and we tennis players are experts in this field.
Casper has proved to be a fighter on and off court. He is overcoming the challenges he is facing. We are anxiously waiting for him to be discharged and welcome him back to his second home in Florida with open arms. Hoping he can be here in June for our ES International School graduation ceremony. We are so proud of you Casper!
Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy