Be a positive role model
With the recent college signing period, a few things have been on my mind that I wanted to share with our young, college-bound athletes.
What kind of advice can help prepare them for the next phase of their lives? How could I maybe help prepare them for what is about to come?
As we step back and take a look at the world around us, the changes are apparent. Some of these changes are good while others are not so good. The point is that our world is changing. New ideas, new laws, new technologies and other innovations keep our world on a constant merry-go-round.
As I look around, I struggle sometimes to see the good in things. The younger generation has grown up with much different attitudes and ideals than those instilled in us.
Now in my 30s, I remember when I was a child, my great-grandmother scolded me for using bad words, interrupting a conversation between two adults, watching television broadcasts that were not up to standard and many other things. She was the one person I looked up to most in this world. She taught me the meaning of respect and never to give up.
Having grown up during the Great Depression, she often reminded me to never waste food. What I didn’t eat would be fed to the animals, but nothing was ever wasted. A God-fearing woman, she instilled in me the importance of being a good person and not sinning.
During the day, outside was the place for a child to be and that is where I spent most of my days. Cell phones and iPads were non-existent, television was only viewed at certain hours of the night, and music filled with bad words would get you a backhand.
I now see children with cell phones and iPads in their hand at an early age. (Even my three-year-old goddaughter has the knowledge to work YouTube.) Music and television are filled with crude language and other things that shall not be discussed in this column.
But one thing has not changed. Children, many of whom are budding athletes, are still trying to change the world. The eyes of the world seemed to always be focused on the younger generation of athletes transitioning from high school to college.
Week after week, all eyes are focused on who is being signed to what school. These young men and women, fresh from high school graduation and the pivotal part of this observation, are looked at as role models and world-changers.
Changing the world and helping to make it a better place is never a bad thing. The problem faced is that most children or young adults give up when the world tries to shut them down.
Admiral William McRaven, U.S. Navy SEAL, helped bring light on how to change the world in his commencement address to the University of Texas in 2014. He told UT graduates and their guests that each day — whether on the field as an athlete, or in an office — tasks are completed that lead to a new task, in turn leading to making the world a better place or reaching personal goals.
However, as we often find, changing the world is not easy. Obstacles will be thrown in the way, and sharks will set out to get you.
The basic idea is that, as a people, we are all shark chum, and it is not a question of if, but when, the sharks will begin to circle you. When they began their deep swim around your mind and body, fight, he said.
But how do you fight a shark? A shark is fought by standing your ground and punching him right in the snout. The world is filled with these sharks, especially in the world of young athletes, so stand your ground.
Remember, people will judge everything you do on and off the field. If you want to change the world, you must fight back the sharks, remain humble and be a positive example for the youngsters looking to follow in your footsteps.
My great-grandmother often taught me about people as well, telling me that people are easily judged by their outer appearance and not by what is on the inside. If you want to change the world, she would say, judge a person by the size of his or her heart, not by looks.
One person cannot change the world without hope and faith — hope for a better tomorrow, faith in everything you do.
Whether you step onto a baseball diamond, football field, basketball court, track or other athletic venue, have faith in everything that you do. If you put things into God’s hands and do everything that you can to be a positive model and actually change the world, you will.
Be a positive role model. Don’t let anger take you over when a bad play is called, and don’t make derogatory comments or actions when you get upset that a game has not gone in your favor.
As future generations observe your actions, they will take note and act the same. Carry yourselves in a manner that leaves a positive impression on the next hopeful young athlete. This, ultimately, is how to change the world.