We just finished signing day a few weeks ago. This day always reminds me of an important lesson and reminder. Every year, my hope is that players have maximized their experience in our program and gained values through football. Some will go play college football, just be a student, join the military, or go into the work force. Regardless, if they sign a scholarship, we want them to be better prepared for whatever they face. However, I also understand that the unknown future creates great pressure for our young people. The social media age only intensifies the anxiety they face as well. Social media is like driving on the interstate and every 0.25 miles you see a billboard of where someone was offered a scholarship or a college player is entering the transfer portal. This keeps bringing up the thought of: “Why not me?” or “What if something out there is better?” When I grew up, the only way you knew about other recruits was the Sporting News or latest Street & Smith’s College Football Magazine. Players are now having to constantly judge themselves on their handheld devices. This forces them to live in the future, instead of live in the present. The facts are that although sports can provide the next opportunity, they will also end at some point. However, the values and relationships gained in sports will last a life time. If you don’t maximize the now, you will not maximize anything in the present or future. Don’t get me wrong, recruiting or getting to the next level needs a plan and process. But living in the present to maximize your future also needs a plan and process. In these times, I would like to encourage you to do these 3 things: Pray, Play, and Enjoy the Present…
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30
Pray… I went to 3 high schools growing up and can vividly remember the burden of the unknown. I wanted to play college football so bad, but had no idea if that opportunity would ever happen. I was even more scared of what was ahead if I was no longer in sports. Sports had given me direction, a sense of belonging, and my greatest passion. I ran across the above verse reading my bible one day and this passage became a consistent staple. I realized that I could not carry this burden alone and needed to give it over to the only One that knew my future. Prayer was able to give me peace and rest in the middle of the storm. This verse helped me understand that God doesn’t want us weighed down and He knows this holds us back. In football, we always say, ” A confused player is a slow player, but confidence allows a player to play fast.” When we carry burdens, they slow us down for what God has in store for us. He wants us fast moving with our God given abilities. I had to learn to pray and release my burden so I could compete without hesitation.
“Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed.” -Proverbs 16:3
Play…Compete with all of your mental, physical, and emotional energy. Lay it all on the line!! I listened to my daughter stress at the beginning of her senior year. Haley is a very talented dancer and had no idea where she was going to be accepted. She had just taken her ACT and had not yet auditioned for any dance schools. I looked at her and said, ”Haley did you prepare for your test and answer the best as you could?”.. “Yes, Dad I did”.. “Are you going to prepare and perform the best you can at your auditions?” “Yes, Dad I am”…”Then, Haley, you will be honoring God with your ability and where you go will line up exactly as it is supposed to.” When you put your power in the future, you forfeit your power in the present. You are putting all your mental energy on a decision that is in someone else’s hand. When you do this, you are actually paralyzing your ability at a subpar level. You might as well be at your best so people can decide on your best performance. When you look in the mirror, you will be proud that you had the courage and fortitude to lay it all on the line. Just be the best you, you can be, because you is good enough!
Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That is why it is called the Present.
Enjoy the Present…Remember that maximizing the now equals maximizing the future. You are always training yourself for future habits. Society is training us to have a what is next mindset. What is the next activity for me? What is next on social media? What could be next if I go in the Transfer Portal? The mentality of always looking ahead or thinking the grass is greener; has a high likelihood of following you into college, in jobs, or maybe even in relationships. You will find yourself not enjoying other stages of life because you are seeking the next thing. Remember that focusing on the future takes away your power to perform in the present. By enjoying the present, you will maximize your performance, relationships, and gain the critical values that sports teach. I tell our players that,”My concern is that we gain habits of excellence in all areas of life. This will ensure you being successful no matter if you play college football, join the military, be a student, or go into the workforce. If we do not gain these values, then we have a high likely hood of failure no matter what we choose.” Have fun, you will play back on this experience whether you believe it or not. Your current legacy is more important than your future legacy and relationships will last a lifetime. People are going to remember how you make them feel long before they remember where you go or any award. Realize that you get many different opportunities and values out of football or sports. If you are struggling with this concept, think back to why you started playing and make sure to finish that way. The longer we play, the more we seem to forget why we started… And always remember you are born for special things, enjoy the present… God will take care of the rest.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11