So you've made the decision to take the abilities God has given to you and pursue an athletic career. I am proud of this decision in itself. I was in your shoes awhile back and there are a few things I want you to remember as you elevate your game to the next level.
I hope you never lose your love for the game. That should be the reason that you play. Not to make your parents happy, not to help our wallets by getting a scholarship, but for your passion and burning desire for the sport. If that love ever fades, stop. Don't continue to play just for us.
There is no reason to be miserable. The life of an athlete is gonna get tough, I can promise you that. But what kept me going was the feeling I got when I stepped on the field. If you don't feel that, don't play. You can't compete at this level half heartedly.
Never forget where you came from. No matter how accomplished you become, I want you to never forget who got you there. You can't do this in your own. Your parents, coaches (yes even your first rec ball ones), teachers, family friends, advisors all played a role. They gave you the opportunities. Never forget that. Always be grateful for what they've done and make sure they feel appreciated for how they helped you become who you are today.
Know your role and do your job well. Every single person is vital to the team's success. Whether it's to be the team's highest scorer, setting your teammates up for shots or pitching your team out of a jam, know and understand your job. If you're sitting on the bench, hype your teammates up, pay attention at all times, and always be ready if your number is called upon.
Always put the team's goals above your own. There is no I in team. Would you rather break every record possible, but lose every game as not make playoffs? Or would you rather win the championship?
Child, I hope when you play you don't seek recognition. Never play for awards or accolades as that will just add pressure. Those will come. There will be times where you feel that you are overshadowed by your teammates. My dad used to call me the unknown soldier. But i promise, when you leave your impact will definitely be felt. Just worry about yourself and do the best that you can do, the recognition will come later.
With that being said, no matter what status you achieve always be humble. There is always going to be someone better than you. Any chance you are thrown into the spotlight, do not brag. Throw back that attention onto your teammates and all those who help you become the best player that you can be. Little kids who look up to you and want to be you will watch those interviews, be a good example. You were once that little kid. Any chance you get to interact with the future stars of the sport, I want you to make time for them and encourage them. It will mean the world to them if you take interest. In their eyes, you're a superstar. Just remind them that you're just a normal human and started off just like them. Be the role model that you wanted at their age.
Respect the game, your coaches, associating staff, officials, and your opponents. Never act like you are above any of them. Especially when it comes to your managers. They are not your servants. Take the time and invest in them. Always treat everyone with the utmost respect and regard. Don't act like a know it all. Your coaches know a lot more than you do. Don't take any opponent lightly and always remember these people have worked just as hard as you to get there.
The game is hard. If it was easy everyone would do it. You're going to get criticized and yelled at but I want you to remember to not take the criticism to heart. Your coaches know what you are capable of and your potential. They may not always go about critiquing you in the right way. Take their advice but don't sit and dwell on it. When untrue things are said about your character, I want you to remember who you are. You know what is true, believe in yourself.
Work Your tail off. Be the first one there and the last to leave. Become addicted to never ending physical, mental, spirtiual, self-improvement. Team practice is not enough time to get better. You have to work outside of that. Never be afraid to ask for extra help. Remember that those times you're not working, someone else is and they very well could be your opponent.
I want you to invest in your teammates. This is one thing I wish I did more of. Always ask if anyone wants to workout with you as not only will you get to connect with them deeper, you're also making the team stronger. Get to know your teammates's stories. Be genuine in your interactions. If you see someone struggling always take time to help them out. Make sure they know that you always have their back and that they can come to you with anything.
Remember that you not only represent yourself, but you represent your school, your parents, and your team. Represent all these things well as anything you do is a reflection on all of them.
Some of the best advice I have ever received was to trust your preparation, always give 100%, do things the right way, and have fun. If you do that, you will see success.
Finally, give back to the game anyway that you can. This game rewarded you and I want you to give back, whether it be coaching, charity work, etc. Be a blessing in someone's life.
Son/Daughter, I am your #1 fan and I promise to support you in anyway I can. You can always count on me to help you achieve your wildest dreams. I am so proud of you. You earned this kid. Reach for the stars
Former Athlete and Current Proud Mom.