Monica McNutt

It is that wonderful time of year: a month into school, sports seasons in full swing.

My playing career has ended, but I can still remember some of the issues I dealt with in high school, in the years leading up to college. Those things that were in “gray areas,” and were left to be figured out on your own time.  I can certainly remember the things I wish I’d known and the habits I wish I had already developed.

As a former athlete and a current sports enthusiast, I’m here to help you, the high school athlete, and your family navigate the murky streams of high school sports that abruptly drop you into the large lakes of college athletics.

The time will fly by. I remember the corner of The Post building where I sat finishing class work, at the Winter All-Met photo shoot in 2007.  It feels as if I blinked my eyes too hard, and magically became a Georgetown alumna, and recipient of The Post’s Distinguished All-Met Award four years later.

While there is no “one-size fits all” formula, some things remain the same across sports — namely, hard work.  As I survey the college athletes I know, a common theme arises: “I wish I knew how to work hard before college.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure many of you have already accomplished success in your various sports and probably work very hard, in your own mind. But the fact of the matter is, collegiate athletics are a level of competition that has yet to be unveiled for you.  It is a level of competition that you won’t know until you know.

My intent is by no means to scare you, just to give you caution. While your current coaches coach out of passion, college coaches rest their livelihoods in the ability of their players to produce.  It is their job to get the maximum level of production out of you, their player.

So I’ll do it when I get there, you may think. Not that easy, if you haven’t already developed the habit. Change your attitude now; build your work ethic now.  My resident assistant (RA) at Georgetown posted a quote by Abraham Lincoln on his door, and it just so happened to coincide with one of the most hellacious preseasons of my career: “Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then… find the way.”

That quote must embody your attitude now, as a high school athlete. Take the challenges you are facing now, and view them as exercises building your strength for what is to come. If this sincerely becomes your attitude, then hard work will not be a question. It will mean nothing to you to be at practice early, and leave late because you are working on your game. Your attitude toward daunting tasks will become, “just something to do that ultimately makes me better.”

In your mind, buddy up with the family named Hard Work.  You should be BFF’s with High School Hard Work; this way, when you meet his bigger, stronger, tougher, older brother, College Competition, you will already be a close friend of the family.

Got a question for Monica, or an idea for an issue that she can tackle? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.