So, I decided to stay close to home and receive a great education. However, I came to school not sure what to expect with athletics.

Preseason is only two weeks long, and cannot be wasted on getting the team physically fit. Your summer preparation is very important. You should start the strength and conditioning program as soon as you receive the packet. It will not be easy, and there will be days where you do not feel like doing it, but if training for Division I was easy, then everyone would do it. While training, you have to continually remind yourself that the men you will play against in the fall are working just as hard as you are, if not harder. Therefore, every day you have to go out there and work as hard as you can. The key to being successful in Division I athletics is hard work.

I played on one of the nations top club teams in my age group and my high school team was ranked as high as third in the nation. Like all of you, I knew Division I sports were going to be tougher than any level I had played at before. The main thing about coming to a Division I program is to make sure you are physically and mentally prepared. There will be times during training when you are physically drained and you think you cannot push yourself any farther. It is times like this when you have to be mentally tough and push yourself. Fitness is one of the most stressed topics in college because it helps you both physically and mentally.

Initially, respect is not given to freshmen on this team. You have to prove to everyone that you want to be on that field just as bad as the upperclassmen do. With everyone working hard and pushing each other beyond their limits, our team will succeed. When we hold up the championship trophy, we all will forget about those hundred degree days when we were suffering in June. If everyone puts in the time and effort now, we will all be rewarded throughout the season. Muhammad Ali summed it all up well, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

Your teammate

Throughout my career motivated individuals have surrounded me. This inspiration at times was tough to feel during the daily grind, and other times the real life energy was obvious. When our paths cross, I am proud to see that the athletes come up to me for a handshake or high five and the stories they remind me about put an instant smile on my face.

This new segment will showcase the letters that many have written, myself or the athletes and coaches that I have worked with; to share their inspiration with those we call “teammates.” As you read through the messages that are shared, please remember that what is inside you can separate you from the rest. Look around and you may be surprised how many others are in need of just a little enthusiasm to push them closer to their goals: professionally, physically, mentally, etc.

I will begin with a letter that I sent to a team that I am still very proud of to this day. No names needed. Just a sincere message that I hope can impact others to pay it forward by giving energy to those around them.

Please leave your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. How are you preparing your team, coaches, administrators, staff, co-workers, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers to have a positive mindset in both good and challenging times?