The Craft of Resilience in Sports

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by David McKinzie III

Sports have been a major part of my life since I was four years old. Growing up I played all kinds sports. Golf, football, and tennis are just some of the few. These activities gave me mental and physical strength to tackle hardships that came my way. I learned that living the life of an athlete can shape and challenge one’s character in significant ways.

Sports Produce Character

Sports taught me how to be mentally strong and adjust to unexpected situations when things get tough. In college, I was presented with the opportunity  to play Division 1 football at Boise State University. There were many hardships that challenged my character the more I got involved. However facing these challenges with utmost determination produced huge strides in my character development. I learned that sports give athletes opportunities to build themselves morally.

Discipline in Prioritizing

Football taught me endurance. It also taught me how to prioritize and organize daily activities in life. For example, being an athlete did not omit the importance of school. My parents and coaches constantly reminded me that I was a student first, then an athlete next. Being an athlete teaches one how to balance schedule. With daily practices and workouts, I had to find ways to balance everything. There were many opportunities presented to me with different events on campus that I had to learn to say yes or no to in order to prioritize right. Learning how to prioritize and organize my schedule matured me at a young age and sculpted my character in positive ways.

Resilience—Get Back Up When You Get Knocked Down

The most important thing sports taught me was how to persevere. Sometimes when we encounter certain situations, it becomes easy to quit when the going gets tough. Playing football on the Division 1 level forced me to engage with perseverance in greater ways than I could have imagined. I had to constantly learn how to focus on the task at hand. Being in a competitive atmosphere for 4 years taught me how to adapt to any environment. There were days I would come to practice and didn’t feel like competing if I was hurt or had a bad day at school. But I had to leave those feelings at the door and hit the field with an energetic and positive mindset. Going through this process consistently increased my mental resilience which shaped my character for the better.

Sports, if you play them enough, have the ability to show your potential.

It puts your mind and body through a litmus test daily to see how you will react. If you are tired – are you going to quit, or fight through it? If you’re having a bad day, are you going to let that ruin your performance on the field or are you going to keep pushing forward to have the best practice you’ve ever had? That’s what a life committed to sports can pull out of you.

Playing sports all my life has instilled character traits that helps me in life today. I have learned perseverance – when the going gets tough, I keep going with a positive attitude. I have learned to be a team player –  that selfishness does not supersede what is best for the team. I have learned it’s always best to do what is right – integrity. I have learned to respect others and treat them how I would want to be treated.

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