Overcoming social anxiety, becoming part of a tribe

Amanda Newell is a founding member of the Centennial Tigers. Read about how she has learned to overcome some of her social anxiety by immersing herself in footy.

Amanda Newell

Social anxiety has had a crippling grip on me for as long as I can remember. Meeting new people or being in an unfamiliar setting or experience is one of the hardest things for me.

I often come off as standoffish or condescending, while internally I’m battling with self-consciousness and overbearing irrational fears that leave me tongue-tied and painfully awkward.

“While I would love to join in on conversation and act normal, I find myself observing from the distance…”

While I would love to join in on conversation and act normal, I find myself observing from the distance until I’m confident enough that I can assimilate without making a complete fool of myself.

Youngster Amanda during her soccer years

Growing up, I tried to avoid anxiety and fear by choosing familiar activities. I tried many sports growing up, but each one was something my brother or sister tried first. Whether it was dancing, gymnastics, soccer, skateboarding, snowboarding, or rugby, I watched and learned expectations for years before trying it myself.

Australian rules football was no different. My sister played for multiple seasons before I got enough courage to attend my first training. I was hooked after the first minute, as footy incorporates my favorite aspects from rugby: minimal stoppages, full contact, and (a lot more) kicking. I fell in love with the sport so much that in my first season, I didn’t miss a single training or game.

I joined Aussie rules in Denver during a transition period; over half the team at nationals was comprised of rookies. It gave me the opportunity where I could be a welcoming face, and it ensured everyone felt comfortable trying out a new sport. We are all relatively new to the sport and learn together to become better players and teammates.

Amanda (right) with older sister Sara

“We [The Tigers] hold ourselves and our teammates to a high standard of integrity and work to empower those around us to believe in themselves.”

Many of my fellow rookies decided to join the Tigers, and it is mostly because we value the same expectations and experiences from playing a team sport. We persist through tough situations on and off the oval—personally and as a team. We hold ourselves and our teammates to a high standard of integrity and work to empower those around us to believe in themselves. We have respect for our fellow athletes and supporters.

As the Tigers kick off our inaugural season, I welcome anyone who is interested to come try it out, even if you are nervous trying something new. If you aren’t hooked on the game after one training, you will at least get to meet some of the most-welcoming women I have ever known.

The Centennial Tigers at their first-ever skills clinic in February 2020

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