It’s been five years since I stepped foot onto the campus of the University of Tennessee to start my journey as a student-athlete. In the time since then, there are dozens and dozens of things that I have both seen and experienced which have made me reflect.
One of the biggest opportunities that I continually see being thrown away and disregarded is the ability to utilize and take advantage of the many resources provided to athletes at the highest level of college athletics. The resources available are vast and include areas such as academics, strength and conditioning, nutrition, medical and wellness, personal/career development, and much more. These individuals’ jobs within these departments are solely to serve the student-athletes and be of assistance to them in any way possible. They are experts in their respective fields and are there to help you develop and have success.
There is only one time in your life in which you have people solely dedicated to making sure you wake up, go to class, work out, and eat all of your meals. That will never happen again one time in your life after your time as an athlete has come to a close.
In fact, if you are so fortunate to make it to the next level, doing all those things listed above is on you. It is your own responsibility, and your job, to be sure you are living and doing right. If you don’t, it will be exposed quickly and there is always someone right behind you ready to take your job. So why would you not use the assets given to you by the institution to the fullest?
My advice is to not just take full advantage of everything given and available to you during your student-athlete experience, but treat the people there that are helping you with the utmost respect and dignity. No, they don’t work for you. They are there to do their job and want to see you succeed. When you work hard and treat people the right way while doing it, it pays dividends. The same people that are working with you and helping you accomplish your goals have most likely been to many other schools and have a vast network at the collegiate level, professional level, and externally in the business world. Whether it is talking about their interactions with you to a professional scout, helping you land a job after the playing days are over, or putting a good word into a business for a potential NIL deal, never forget how those around you can benefit you and the things you want to do.
The amount of gratitude you will feel when leaving a place after you’re playing days are over, knowing you gave it your all and took full advantage of everything it had to offer, will be greater than you can imagine. Trust me, I have lived it and seen it.