There are some young athletes that become stars very early on in their careers. As freshmen and sophomores they play quality minutes on the varsity squad ahead of seniors and juniors. Their talent is undeniable, but sometimes it isn’t as easy as it looks.
In a world where teammates are perfect and sports etiquette is followed, young stars would never experience jealousy or anything but support from their older teammates. No one would bolster his complaints about playing time with, “he’s only a freshman.”
But that perfect world doesn’t exist yet. Sorry.
If you’re that young star, you should never dumb yourself down or sell yourself short. You should continue to push yourself, develop your game and set yourself up for a bright future. But the glory comes with pressure early on and no experience to fall back on.
Remain humble. There is a place for bold confidence but remember, “you win more flies with honey than vinegar.” You would be surprised at how many people take note of humility, especially in talented and humble players.
Be a sponge, soaking up all that your coaches, mentors, and teammates have to offer. You may be just as talented — if not more talented — than some of your teammates, but you don’t have the experience yet.
“The best way to stay humble is to never lose focus of your ultimate goal,” says former Georgetown standout Chris Wright.
Wright knows about leading the class; he was named first team All-Met as a sophomore at St. John’s. He earned All-Met honors for three straight years (2005-07), becoming the first three-time first team selection since Adrian Dantley (1971-73). He also clocked major minutes on the Cadets’ varsity during his freshman season.
“At that time I was focused on being the best freshman in the country and trying to do whatever I could to get colleges to take notice,” Wright said. “Challenging yourself, playing up against stronger, tougher, and overall better competition will keep you humble.”
Keep you humble, while making you better. It’s imperative that you continue to be a student of the game, studying and perfecting your craft. Exhaust all of your resources. But most importantly, enjoy it while it lasts. You won’t be a freshman or sophomore forever. Your talent should continue to increase; you can never be satisfied. When time passes and you become a junior and senior, be an incredible mentor to the outstanding underclassmen on your team.
Though you are freshmen or sophomores now, don’t underestimate your power, just keep the politics in mind. By working your hardest day in and day out, you get better and you will force your teammates to get better, which benefits the entire team. Their pride will probably creep in — they may think, “this freshman isn’t about to make me look bad” — but once you’ve shown them how hard you work and how humble you are, that sentiment will change.
At the end of the day, freshman, sophomore, juniors, seniors — “The moment you settle is the time somebody catches you,” Wright said. If anyone ahead of you has settled, catch them. You’ll either pass them, or they’ll get it going again and a healthy chase will be on.
About Transition Game
Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports
Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.
Offseason is right time to get with the program (Jan. 3, 2012)
Managing to stay close to the game (Dec. 20, 2011)
Leadership, Tebow-style (Dec. 13, 2011)
The importance of attitude (Dec. 6, 2011)
Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)
Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)
Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)
Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)
College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)
Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)
Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)