Rashad Jennings: A Letter to My High School Self

Beyond The Game with Rashad Jennings – July Issue

For this week’s column, I’ve decided to do something a little differently. I’m going to write this column primarily for the football players. At this time of the year, you’ve probably been grinding all summer in the weight room and on the field – highly anticipating your high school football season. I’ve been there. You’re craving to play under the Friday night lights again, and you’re doing what it takes to motivate yourself to continue to perform well in the sport you love.

Actually, as I sit here and think of those days of high school – trying to balance sports, school and life – I started to think about what I advice I would give to my high school self.  I want to share that advice with you, in hopes that you’ll find some encouragement and realize that you may just be on the more on the right track than you think or give yourself credit for. In other ways, I hope it challenges you to push harder, allow yourself to be more disciplined, take discipline as an opportunity to grow, and learn from someone who has been in your shoes.

A Letter to My High School Self

Dear Rashad,

In spite of all who said that you would never even make it to the collegiate level. Despite continually being picked last, being overweight, and even having a 0.6 GPA, you will be a conqueror if you do these things: Refuse to allow the opinions of others and the negative life circumstances you face to overcome your desires and rob you of your dreams. Remind yourself to learn to love the process instead of the ultimate outcome. And whatever you do, make sure that you never allow yourself to get caught up in this microwave, easy-access, entitlement-driven society. Anything that is truly worth having is worth working hard for. I believe it was a great coach that once said, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” So always work hard, and you will either BE the best talent or BEAT the best talent!

-Rashad

After reading this, some of you are probably thinking, “It’s easy for you to say all of that – you’re in the NFL now.” Yes. You’re right. My passions and my profession have collided, and for that I am very grateful and blessed. But that doesn’t change the preparation. I’ve always said and continue to say today, “When opportunity presents itself, it’s too late to prepare.” I’ll always live by those words in everything I do. Regardless if I played in the NFL today or not, I’d still give myself and any current high school student-athlete the same advice, because I know that the preparation and habits of discipline that I instilled in myself then, would reap the benefits to where wherever life were to take me today. Stay encouraged, and prepare yourself for where you want to be, and more importantly, where you’re supposed to be.

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