How Being a College Athlete Prepared Me for the Workforce
In April of my senior year of high school, I committed to play basketball for Grace College. I was ecstatic about the opportunities I would be given to improve upon my game on the court and to play the sport for four more years after high school. However, I had no idea how much the program would shape other areas of my life. I have learned countless, invaluable lessons through this game that helped me become a much better student and prepared me for life after college.
First and foremost, play for the glory of God.
Coach Kessler always tells us to make sure our four B’s are in the right order: Bible, books, basketball, babes. Coach is a goldmine of knowledge when it comes to basketball; he understands the game better than anyone I have ever known. However, even he knows that it is only a meaningless game when we aren’t using it to glorify Christ. Coach always made sure we were using basketball in the way our Savior intended: to spread His love and glorify Him. Throughout the year we always take part in small mission’s opportunities that give us the opportunity to spread Christ’s love through the game of basketball. This has always been my favorite characteristic of Coach Kessler; he’s a spiritual mentor first, coach second.
Leave your excuses at the door.
Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned as a student athlete is that nobody wants to hear your excuses. Basketball takes hours from every single day. However, this is certainly no reason to think it can be used as an excuse. Playing college basketball is a privilege; if you cannot handle it, you do not have to play. I have my responsibilities and nobody wants to hear why I failed to be responsible enough to complete them. I can ensure you this does not work in the workplace either; get your work done one way or the other, or give up your privileges.
Time is valuable, learn to prioritize.
When your days as a student often include classes, practice, weight lifting, homework, and a job, you have no time to waste if you also want to get close to a healthy amount of sleep. I learned that blasting music or turning on Michigan football (Go, Blue!) while I was trying to study, drastically hindered my productivity. I learned the importance of having and following a strict schedule in order to keep myself on track. Sometimes, my social activities had to take the backseat. There is very little time in a day, and I needed to prioritize in order to be successful.
The importance of teamwork.
The vast majority of careers after college will require you to work within a team of some sort to achieve a common goal. Basketball helped teach me that if I wanted to be successful, I had to learn what it meant to be a part of a team. My coach frequently told us a story of one of his former players who received a job interview (and ultimately was offered the job) at a large orthopedic company simply because of how he operated within the team–he enjoyed the successes of others, was willing to sacrifice in order to better the team, and displayed the kind of passion that motivated his teammates. This story reminded us how important teamwork is no matter where we go in life.
Shoot for the highest standards.
Before each season, the team goes on a team retreat to build team cohesion, enjoy each other’s company, and recover from the worst couple weeks of the season (preseason conditioning). Part of this retreat includes a goal-setting team meeting. We all leave that meeting with the same goals in mind and, I can ensure you, we have never left that meeting with the goal of finishing fifth in the conference. We are all competitive so we set our goals high, but we also lay out what we need to do in order to achieve our high standards. This impacted my work as a student, and also how I am as an employee. I continue to set high standards for myself in all areas of my life.
The life of a student-athlete is challenging, but the rewards are well-worth it. Basketball helped develop this immature boy into a responsible, young adult who is now a contributing member of the workforce.
Thank you, Coach Kessler and thank you Lancer basketball!