When I was in high school, classes and grades came easy to me — I was a pretty lazy student because I had the luxury of not needing to work very hard to outperform the majority of my class.
What didn’t come easy to me was athletics. And I really, really wanted to be good at sports.
My eyes got bad early on, so I gave up baseball and focused on football. And since I wasn’t doing baseball in high school anymore, I picked up track to get faster for football. All of my energy and preparation went into that sport.
We were never very good — my varsity career of three seasons had a cumulative record of 5-25. Woof.
I actually saw more varsity playing time my sophomore year than my junior year. That was embarrassing to me, so I really worked hard during the offseason before my senior year to get into good shape and be a major contributor.
I worked my ass off, and it was recognized. I was slated to start on both sides of the ball, most of the special teams, and my team voted me as a team captain.
I had a pretty strong first game of the season and felt like my hard work had paid off. But during the second game of my senior year, I broke my leg. I finished the game on the sidelines angry and in tears.
I remember the moment the injury happened — I was on defense and “taking a play off” when I planted my leg awkwardly and had an offensive lineman hit me at the same time.
My dad had told me back in those days, “Football injuries happen when one of the players isn’t going full speed.” I don’t know if that’s totally true, I’m sure there are a ton of injuries that occur precisely because two players are going full speed, but it always stuck with me because I knew I wasn’t going full speed.
And because of that, I had my season taken away from me. I worked for months (if not years) for that final season, and then it was taken away in an instant because I stopped going 100%.
That’s always stuck with me. If you work your ass off for something just to take that opportunity at half speed and risk losing it when it presents itself — what was the point?
Related: the last 10 percent