NEXT PLAY™

Building strong relationships, working hard, and being persistent are keys to fulfilling all of our dreams. I learned this through an amazing experience that began with an arm injury in Little League football and continued through my being awarded a football scholarship at Ole Miss. Before you think, “Oh, big deal, you’re a big guy who plays football, of course you got in,” let me tell you about myself: I’m 5’7″ tall and weight 155 pounds soaking wet. I am not exactly your prototypical football player.

How to build long-term relationships

When my arm healed after its fracture in Little League football, I was introduced and had the opportunity to train with Kyle Strongin for 12 weeks. Strongin was a huge beast of a man who played football at University of Oklahoma. From that experience, I developed a strong relationship with Strongin that would help me throughout my life.

When you build strong relationships, you develop a network of people you can call on to support you. Few people will help someone they barely know and don’t know the capabilities of, so it’s essential that you develop those relationships and show all of your contacts just what you can do. You must focus on them and find ways to help them 1st. Always, always, always focus on being there to help them. 

Working hard

During that training time, and also during my senior year in high school when Strongin served as the receivers coach for our football team, I worked hard to make the most of my skills. I rehabilitated my arm and continued developing my relationship with Strongin even after breaking my ankle four weeks into my senior year football season. Strongin recognized what a hard worker I was, and that helped build an even stronger relationship with the man. That relationship would eventually lead me to a football scholarship at Ole Miss.

If I hadn’t worked hard, Strongin wouldn’t have had the respect for me that he did. Because of my strong work ethic, though, my relationship with the beefy football player and coach was solid enough that when I asked him for help, he enthusiastically responded in the affirmative.

Being persistent

Since I was sidelined throughout most of the season my senior year, I didn’t get an opportunity to go to a big D–1 football school straight out of high school, and I spent a year at a Division 1 AA school before being pulled from the team and not invited to return. I didn’t give up, though. I called all of the 119 Division 1 schools, trying to get onto a team. Every one of them disregarded me, because of my small stature.

I still didn’t give up. I learned that Strongin was interning at Ole Miss, and had the courage to call him. He had recently been promoted to Director of Football Operations, and he helped me get an opportunity to walk on and try out for the football team, where I eventually earned a full Division I college football scholarship.

You can achieve your dreams, but only if you have the right set of keys. Through building solid relationships, working hard, and being persistent, you will find your dreams within reach. One thing that you may have noticed, though, is this: persistence and a strong work ethic are often crucial when it comes to building those strong relationships, and the strong relationships can make or break your chances of chasing down your dreams.