I always write the introductions to my articles last. I never know where an idea is going to take me. This particular article is the hardest – and the best – that I've ever written. It's full of emotion and brought me back to a time that was both incredibly fulfilling and incredibly hard.
What you're about to read is about playing football, but the fact is it's about something much bigger. It's about dreams, and what it takes to make them come true.
Because everybody has dreams – dreams are easy. You don't even have to close your eyes to imagine yourself winning the Superbowl, or climbing Mount Everest, or finally buying Mom the house she always wanted.
But the road between dreams and reality is much harder. It's rarely short or without obstacles – it's usually a long and complicated path filled with enough setbacks and self-doubt that would make most turn back, siding with the naysayers who told them that their goal was "unrealistic" or "impractical," or "childish" or "stupid."
Or just a dream.
Growing up in Illinois, I had one dream: to play Division I football. It wasn't the NFL – it was suiting up on Saturdays and playing for a big time school. I don't know when the dream started, but I can't tell you when it wasn't a goal of mine.
I punished my body for years in the weight room, on the track, and on the field all for one goal. I didn't ask too many questions with training; Walter Payton ran hills? Jim Wendler would run hills. Barry Sanders squatted? Jim Wendler would squat until his legs fell off.
I did so without contemplating overtraining (this didn't exist) or counting carbs. Asking questions felt like a waste of time, time that could be spent running and squatting.
Since then I've been through harder things, like divorce, children, and the death of loved ones. But at the time this was the biggest thing in my life, and the hardest. It's been over 15 years and I still look at those experiences and draw strength and wisdom from them.
When I went to the University of Arizona, I was two years removed from high school. I spent the first two years playing ball at the United States Air Force Academy (this was pre-tattoos and pre-beard) and realized that military life wasn't for me. I also realized that I needed to pursue what was in my heart.
So I left – literally packed one bag and flew to Tucson, Arizona without knowing a soul or having a guarantee that I was going to make the team. Below is what transpired and (I hope) is a guide for the young players that have the same dream I once had.
Read the entire article here.
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