Your Decision: Be the victim, or be the victor.

We all know an athlete who has been committed to play college sports since their sophomore year in high school. It is obvious that they have done well through high school and they are going to bring a lot of success to their new collegiate teams. In fact, with a stroke of luck, they probably will win a conference championship, earn a seed in the national tournament, and could play for a national championship.

This fall is their freshman year — and the pandemic has derailed their master plan. More than likely, you are not this athlete. You committed to play sports at a college that was not heavily pursuing you, and frankly, that is OK. It does not matter, be- cause the playing field is even. All our plans have changed. All our momentum has been stripped. All our motivation to be the best version of ourselves has dwindled.

Ideas are everywhere, but motivation is seemingly nonexistent. Everyone has an opinion, but no one has a right set of facts. If you want to be successful through these trials, the path to get there must be a need, not a want. It must be more of an obsession rather than just a passion. You will need to live the process rather than talk about what it is going to take to get there. The great athletes will be OK in the end — they are faster, and stronger, but you will dismiss the perspective of failure. Wisdom says that the lion and the tiger may be more powerful, but the wolf does not perform in the circus. You are the wolf and wolves are masters of survival.

Not everyone has passion. Not every- one is moved emotionally by what they do. And, more likely than not, the drive to push through this season’s adversities will not exist within a herd mentality. If you do not awake each morning and feel an overwhelming urge to invest in your- self, your surroundings, and your future, you are simply another victim of this pandemic.

If you have not found it yet, that in- credible spark and excitement for life, here is the reality: It is not just going to randomly happen or fall into your lap.  It is not the result of given opportunity, nor is it the result of chance and circum- stance. Your passion to succeed is innate, infectious, and temporary if not grasped. Families all over the world are burying their children and yet we are still tempted to complain about the challenges of virtual learning, canceled sports seasons and prohibited social gatherings.

As an athlete, now and moving for- ward, you need to free yourself mentally and engage in your actions rather than your circumstance. To overcome uncontrollable obstacles, some of us will need to break away from our peers and delve deeply into our niche of life. It is the result of focus, determination and internal drive that will propel all of us through the fall and into a successful winter and spring.

Research has proven that people who spend their free time engaged in a passion are happier and more creative and possess a more dynamic personality. Becoming a leader in the weight room, on the team and in the classroom is essentially the most efficient path to self- empowerment. While the biotechnology world engages in a battle against COV- ID-19, student-athletes must initiate conflict with self-doubt. The scientists are experts in their domain, while student- athletes need to be relied upon in theirs. Fall sports have been nearly erased.

Winter seasons are in a shadow of doubt. And spring opportunities are a mere ray of light in a far-too-distant future. De- spite the flow of opposition, the strength training needs to be more intense, the conditioning must be unrelenting, and the commitment to do both, unmatched. Of all silver linings, this is the single most important lesson to remember. In this very moment, you have two options. You can dive in on the forecheck or chase like hell on the backcheck. Whether you grind it out in the corner or fly down center ice, you need to make your presence known. You must leave a memory for the haters, hope for the admirers and proof of progress for yourself.

When the virus passes and stories are told, you, too, will continue your path, the one that was originally intended for you to journey down. You need to be missed in your absence, otherwise it’s proof that you didn’t make a difference in your presence.

~ SPSTRENGTHCOACH, signing off.