Graduation is almost here and the “rest” of your “lessons” are about to begin!
I graduated from high school in 1982 — back when President Reagan was going to “fix” public education — and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life except that I dreamed of becoming a professional football player.
I didn’t have a great GPA and my parents were hoping that I could find a job (the economy wasn’t healthy then, either). I was hired as an aircraft mechanic apprentice at a small regional airport and began to experience a series of life lessons:
No. 1: Just because I graduated from high school meant very little in the working world and the boss really didn’t care too much about my high school “experience.”
After apprenticing for more than a year, I asked my boss for more stable hours, but he didn’t seem to care very much about the fact that I was playing junior football and had just won a national championship and was being recruited for a college football scholarship.
No. 2: It wasn’t my boss’s job to make certain that I felt good about my successes away from work. Work was important to him; it was what he knew and my labor was what he needed.
I left my apprenticeship program later that year so I could continue playing football and found a job on the “paint-line” at a Sucker Rod factory when disaster struck.
I was blocked by a teammate below the waist in practice and blew out my AC ligament. The doctor told me my playing days might be over and I needed to think about a future without football.
No. 3: What you do with setbacks in life very much determines your outlook on life.
I knew that my future looked grim without football and I determined to rehabilitate myself so I could continue playing. I was medically released 10 months later and found myself back on the football field after committing myself to the weight room and some intensive rehabilitation.
That summer, Bakersfield Junior College, Fresno State, and Dickinson State offered me a scholarship to travel to the U.S. and play football for their programs.
I chose Dickinson State because Coach Beisoit assured me that: “Lance, if you come to Dickinson State, you will play, you will have fun, we will take care of your expenses and you will earn a college degree.”
No. 4: Dreams can come true if you stay focused and work at it.
I attended Dickinson State University as a foreign student/athlete and was fortunate enough to be drafted in the fifth round of the 1988 Canadian Football League draft in my Junior year of College.
No. 5: Be careful what you wish for – it may come true.
I was faced with a real dilemma when I had to decide if I would turn professional or return to Dickinson State for my senior year.
More lessons next week.
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