Everyone has dreams – whether they are aspirations of greatness, simple intentions, or lofty fantasies. No matter what, these dreams are what push us to be our best. College students especially, with new worlds opening up to them as opportunities and experiences present themselves, can be the biggest of dreamers.
And of course, the student-athlete subset of the college world is no stranger to dreaming either – the ultimate aspiration being, time and again, the dream of one day playing at a professional level.
This is a tremendous dream and one that will (and should!) propel you into playing and practicing at the highest level your body will enable you to go. However, realize that you must have (what we hate to consider) a ‘back-up plan’ and that you cannot fully press forward with a thought of ‘NFL or bust’. Regarding that ‘bust’ part…you need to be prepared to evolve. It is a necessity that you are able to handle what life will throw at you, just as you would ready yourself for a big game. Work hard, train hard, but know this…you absolutely must be putting in that same effort, carrying that same drive and determination, in the classroom. Just as you are evolving as an athlete, you’ll need to be growing as a student and developing as a person. Learn new subjects and discover skills you didn’t know you had, search out things that interest you, elements that you wouldn’t mind pursuing at some point in your lifetime.
The simplest answer is that when the final whistle blows, or the NHL doesn’t come calling, or your get a career ending injury (which, cough* cough*, this author knows all too well) and your collegiate athletic career has come to a conclusion, you’ll want (and need) to have your academics to back you, your developed skills and knowledge to carry you into the next phase of your life and into your future.
The answer that really puts all the cards on table, making these goals a little less about dreams and a little more about reality, is this: less than 5% of all collegiate student-athletes will go on to play professionally in their respective sport. In fact, the number is often less than that…and this is a figure that should further prompt the fact that as a student-athlete you are both a Student and an Athlete.
You never know what the future will hold. This is not meant to scare you, the student-athlete, but this is to remind you to take hold of that which you can control. Go to practice. Go to class. Evolve into a well-rounded person with dreams that are multifaceted. You have four years to give it your all, in the game and in the classroom. How often to you see an ex-collegiate student-athlete go from on the screen in the game to on the screen behind the anchor’s desk? They didn’t just ‘think’ of that one day and it magically occurred for them. They didn’t click their fingers, or make a call. They found the subject of communications in college, they liked it, they practiced at it and they worked and worked at it until they found success.
Live and play as you go towards your dreams. Know that one day you may need to evolve, so be as prepared as you possibly can be. Endeavor to always give it your all academically and athletically, strive to be the best version of YOU, diversifying the portfolio of your dreams.
Dream on. Dream big.