(Editor's note: The first part of this column was published in the May 16 Craig Daily Press and can be found by visiting www.craigdailypress.com.)
Last week I described a difficult decision I had to make as a junior in college.
Would I turn professional or return for my senior year of college playing on a team that had an opportunity to compete for a national collegiate championship (we were ranked No. 1 in the NAIA national poll for several weeks the previous year)?
I gave five life lessons in last week's column for graduating seniors, so we'll pick this week up from there.
No. 6: When you have two choices to make, you better have a solid moral foundation to help you decide. It would be easy to rationalize a jump to a professional team so that I could begin to make money doing something I had dreamed about since I was a kid.
But not so fast.
I remembered my college coach’s guarantee three years earlier and how important it was for him to see his players graduate and earn a college degree, so I had a serious discussion with my coaches about my future.
Two weeks after the draft I contacted the general manager of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and explained my decision to remain in college for my senior year.
He explained to me that as a drafted player I would have the opportunity to attend training camp after my senior year, but I also needed to understand that it was the team’s intent to build an offensive line with or without my services and that when I arrived the next year, the opportunities to make the team would look very different.
No. 7: Choices have consequences. The GM’s (not so subtle) explanation was my introduction to the world of professional sports and the fact that I was a commodity more than a talented young football player.
The reality was that there were many 6’2” 300-pound offensive linemen all over the country who were more than willing to take the opportunity I was passing up.
I enjoyed my senior year — we were undefeated but we were bumped from the playoffs by a talented team from Central Washington in the semifinals.
In my four-year career at Dickinson State, we had played 40 regular season games and lost only 3.
We made the national playoffs every year and were ranked in the top 5 every year. The experience was unforgettable and I discovered the most important lesson that spring as I was preparing for graduation:
No. 8: At each and every step of our journey toward fulfilling our dreams there are people who support us, take chances on us, have patience with us, pray for us and our success in life is directly attributed to those around us.
After being inducted into DSU’s Hall of Fame in 2005, I realized the effect of my decisions had come full circle.
When players ask me questions about the glory days, my usual response is, “Guys, my time as a player has passed, this is your time. Take full advantage, honor those who make it possible and make good choices.”
Now it’s your turn Class of 2012.
I wish you all success.
Lance Scranton is a Moffat County High School teacher and coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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