What’s up guys??
Part 2 starts with the beginning of my basketball career.
I wasn’t very good at first and I wanted to improve my skills. So my parents sent me to basketball camp that summer and I learned two important lessons that have stayed with me.
First, was that hard work would separate me as a player (and person).
Second, was that each level of sports (and life) is like a mountain, meaning it’s harder to attain the higher you go. The effort and focus rises exponentially each level.
One of the coaches told us that only 2% of high school athletes ever compete in college athletics, and I distinctly remember thinking: “I like those odds. I am in that 2%”.
Throughout my career, I’ve mentally checked off each level and sports has been the catalyst to develop my self confidence and teach me life lessons.
Basketball was my first love, but my second passion was football.
I loved everything about it! The helmets, the thigh pads, the uniforms, the hitting…it was just awesome!!
However, I had a small roadblock to overcome in the form of my Mother. She wouldn’t let me play because she thought I would get hurt.
As I mentioned in Part 1, persistence if one of my best attributes. So in true form I badgered my Mom until she caved and let me play in seventh grade.
The rules of the league limited the players who could carry the ball based on their weight. Unfortunately, I ended up being 6 pounds too heavy and had to play the offensive line.
For a lanky basketball player, this SUCKED!!! However, I was just happy to be finally wearing a football helmet and playing ball.
I went into high school playing football, basketball, and running track. My goal was to be moved up to the varsity as a freshman but I wasn’t big enough for football.
However, I was big enough for basketball but the coaches opted for one of my friends instead. This lit a fire in me!
One of my main motivators throughout my career was proving people wrong and this experience was the beginning of that.
Looking back, this was a fickle motivation because eventually you won’t have anyone else to prove wrong. What I’ve realized was that I was actually chasing peace in my life. I didn’t like who I was and thought proving people wrong would bring me that peace.
I know now that I can operate from a place of peace 24/7 instead of always trying to pursue it. It’s about being more than doing.
Zig Ziglar says:
I was trying to DO in order to BE and kept spinning in circles.
When someone is confident in their identity and who they were created to be, the anxiousness disappears and they can operate from a place of creation not competition.
This is infinitely more powerful!
Back to the story…
My hometown has two high schools in it; Uniontown High School and Laurel Highlands High School (my alma mater).
Since it’s a small town, almost everyone attends our rivalry games. I attended the varsity basketball game as a freshman, and my neighbor told me: “It’s going to be great watching you play junior varsity next year”.
I remember thinking: “I WILL NOT be playing JV next year!”, and as a sophomore, I started varsity for both football and basketball once again proving people wrong.
I ended up having a decent high school career and my dream was to compete at the Division 1 level. Because I stopped growing at 6’4”, football was the best option to fulfill that dream.
I wasn’t highly recruited, mostly because we only won six games in three years of football, so I had limited interest from big schools.
To gain experience against better competition, I attended football camp at West Virginia University, and ended up having a great camp being awarded the “Camper of the Year”.
Because of my performance, West Virginia started recruiting me and offered me a preferred walk-on position as opposed to a scholarship.
I decided to take their offer, even though they had lied to me telling me that I was going to get a scholarship.
Being a walk-on meant that I was part of the team but didn’t have my schooling paid for. It also meant that I had to “prove” myself more than the scholarship players. The chip on my shoulder kept getting larger and larger.
I had an awesome freshman season and won multiple awards. I was one of only four true freshmen that was on the travel squad (meaning you got to travel with the team), and that spring I was the leading receiver in our spring game.
After the game, head coach Rich Rodriguez told my parents and I that I had earned my scholarship!
Needless to say, I was on cloud nine because my hard work had finally paid off and I was going to be validated!!!
Long story short, my joy turned sour because my scholarship never came. This affected my mindset because I associated my self worth with that scholarship. I let the fact that I didn’t have my scholarship make me feel less than the other players.
Looking back, I wish I had been confident in my identity because I wouldn’t have let my mindset be affected like it was. I thought football was the destination, not the journey. I had proved that I could play on that level, I just needed to demonstrate consistency, and not think I could let off the gas.
So if you learn one thing from my story, I hope it’s that you either operate from a place of knowing our identity or not.
Since I wasn’t confident in my identity, I kept searching for it from external sources. When in fact, our true identity comes from within.
Since finding who I was created to be, the anxiousness in my life has disappeared. Not to say I don’t get stressed at times or have bad days. But now I know I’m running in my lane no matter what happens to me.
I’d like to encourage you that you can find your identity too!
It’s about a daily decision to focus on the good in your life and not the craziness. For me this starts with my faith and understanding that God has a perfect plan for my life even when I can’t see it!
I hope you find that too and shift your focus from your circumstances to your purpose.
…and as always, I believe in you!