On the Impact of Names

Language matters. 

It’s something we’ve all heard before. To some, the phrase might feel overused. I disagree. I don’t think language can matter enough. 

Misinterpreting communication can cost us. And not just in the obvious, immediate ways. The language we use and are subjected to shapes us subtly and profoundly.  

Language is our opportunity to shape the world around us. 

Coaching taught me that people will do precisely what they interpret you are asking for. In movement, specificity matters a great deal. If I cue an athlete “Jump tall” or “Give me more,” they will do their best to make those things happen. However, if I have not taken the time to establish a relationship with the athlete and a shared understanding of terms, I will most likely not get the desired result. If I don’t stick around to assess the impact of my coaching, I could very well be doing more harm than good. This lesson on communication has served me in all aspects of life.

Nouns can be an interesting subset in conversation about language.

Nouns are taken very personally, and we often build up intricate ideas about the nouns we use—with others and ourselves. 

For many years, I invested a lot of time and effort in a persona that I attached to a name- a nickname I was given in prison. The persona was not my true self. However, the weight that others attached to that name kept me safe and comfortable. The name and the deeds attached to it became my biggest asset, but the more I relied on that name, the further away from myself I drifted. 

When I was released from prison, the utility of the name I valued for so long shifted. The name still carried weight, but only in the places I didn’t want to be. It was challenging to let go of. When I had nothing, that name was my currency. When I stopped acknowledging it, a curious thing happened. I began to let go of the persona attached to the name and started moving closer to myself. Detaching from that allowed me to view myself for who I was and not who I thought I was supposed to be.

Our nonprofit, DEUCE Community, has also struggled with names. We failed to craft consistent language for the people in our program. We toggled between ‘Program Participant,’ which is too sterile, and ‘Coach,’ which proved confusing because not everyone chose that trajectory in our program. Switching between the two caused more problems. The best path forward was uncertain. 

The answer came from close to the action. Our Program Director, Jose Bojorquez, suggested changing our language to ‘Student.’ Student reflects the willingness we require and the developmental nature of our program. It has neither the ambiguity of coach nor the sterile feel of program participant. Student suggests active participation. The term empowers those enrolled to own their learning and process for growth. Since shifting our language, we have seen a marked difference in how many students navigate the program.

With or without intention, our language constantly evolves and shapes our reality. If we choose not to give careful consideration to the way in which we speak, we do so at our peril; If we do not take control of our language, it will take control of us. 

5/23/24 WOD

DEUCE Athletics GPP

Spend 10 minutes accumulating Cross Overs/Double/Triple Unders..

Complete 3 rounds of the following
8 KB Front Rack Step Ups (ea)
:20 DB Glute Bridge Iso Hold + 12 DB Glute Bridges
8 Half-Kneeling Crossbody Cable Chops (ea)

12 DB Goblet Squats
8 Athletics Burpees
Corner Run



Paused Bench Press

Complete 3 rounds for quality of:
Max (-2) Pullups
Max Parallette Pushups

Then, complete 4 rounds for reps of:
In :75
8 Tuck Jump Burpees
Max Alt. DB Snatches (70/50)