As a motivational speaker, I like the saying ‘success leaves footprints.’ Whether you are trying to earn scholarships to play your sport in college or be a success at anything in life, I encourage you to follow that quote. Set the time aside to read about current and past greats in sports. Get into their mindset. Learn about the fire within them.
Monday night I attended the big game between #3 UConn and #2 Notre Dame in women’s basketball. It was the final home game for All American Skylar Diggins of the Fightin’ Irish. In the two days leading up to the game, I read two in depth features on why she is so successful. In the South Bend Tribune, her step father Maurice Scott shared insights on her quest for excellence (he coached her in high school):
“With Skylar, I don’t know if she loves winning more, or hates losing more. Sometimes, she would win, but she wouldn’t be satisfied with her performance. She will watch a game over and over, looking at the mistakes. Mistake, rewind. Mistake, rewind. You won’t see her rewinding to watch herself hit the 3. She fast-forwards past that stuff. She goes over the mistakes time and time again.” – Maurice Scott
On Monday, I read a feature on Skylar in the New York Times. The writer, Tim Rohan, shared this nugget of parenting wisdom that has helped Skylar be so respected for her character: “When she got her first car, her parents had her sign a contract outlining 25 house rules, including a 10 p.m. curfew and a ban on the word “can’t.” Even now, when Diggins comes home, singing and shouting, the rules apply.” – Tim Rohan, New York Times
I had read more about those rules in a previous Sports Illustrated feature on Skylar that elaborated more on her upbringing by her mother Renee and step dad Maurice (Moe):
“Miss Renee’s rules were not negotiable. Among them: a 10 p.m. curfew for Skylar during her senior year of high school, a signed contract prohibiting anyone else from driving Skylar’s car and a permanent ban on using the word can’t. As for dating, potential suitors had to meet Renee and Moe Scott, Skylar’s stepfather. Renee would write down the license-plate number, make and model of the young man’s car, and demand a cellphone number. Explains Renee, “I would say very calmly, ‘This is my daughter, and I know where to find you.'” -Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated
Parents, coming up with a list similar to their 25 could be a real positive in helping your kids to have success in recruiting and growing up period.
I had a long sit-down interview with Pat Riley years ago. The current mastermind of the Miami Heat said this: “Charlie, excellence is the gradual result of always striving to be better.”
That’s the case with Skylar Diggins. She is never satisfied. There is always something she can improve on. During my television news sports anchoring days, I interviewed Lou Holtz countless times when he coached Notre Dame. He had this saying: “If what you did yesterday seems important then you haven’t done anything today.”
The great ones are relentless. After winning the NBA championship this past season, LeBron James traveled to meet with the great retired center Hakeem Olajuwon so that he could study his low post moves. LeBron took video equipment with him so that he could review the lessons he learned throughout this season.
College coaches are looking for recruits that have a fire within and that are constantly looking to get better. They want competitors. In Monday’s big game, Skylar Diggins missed 21 of 31 shots and had 8 turnovers, but it was her fire within that helped Notre Dame refuse to lose. She played all 55 minutes of the 3 overtimes, and make the big plays down the stretch as the Irish won 96-87.
I was at a volleyball recruiting showcase and talked to a Big Ten coach who said she loves players are ferocious competitors in board games. College coaches want to know what you are doing regarding the mindset of a champion. Reading about and watching documentaries on sports greats can help you in that area. Sunday night I rented Harvard Park from Red Box. It is a nostalgic documentary that focuses on former Major League players, Eric Davis and Darryl Strawberry, as they discuss growing up in South Central L.A. and how they used their love of baseball to get out of the ghetto. In pitching batting practice, they didn’t have the screen to put in front of the mound, so they rolled out 3 big oil barrels they found in a junk yard.
In watching the UConn vs Notre Dame game on Monday I got to thinking about a hot topic of discussion in recruiting, and that is whether a high school athlete should specialize in a sport to get to the next level. That can be a case by case basis, but Kelly Faris has been a top guard for UConn for four years. She lit up Notre Dame for 21 points and 13 rebounds in Monday’s game. I have delivered two Talks at her alma mater, Heritage Christian High School, which is a small school in Indianapolis. There, she played three sports – basketball, volleyball and track. One of the reasons she has succeeded at the top level of D1 with UConn is that volleyball helped her lateral movement and explosiveness off the floor so much. Diggins played volleyball for her alma mater, Washington High School. She was a 3 year captain and 2-time all conference player in that sport.
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Charlie Adams is a motivational speaker who focuses on peak performance and attitude keynotes and seminars. He is the author of 4 books on motivation, including Stoke the Fire Within. While delivering motivational programs to corporate audiences, he has had dozens of company leaders tell him they look to hire former college athletes because of their ability to manage time, their competitive natures, teamwork, and ability to set and reach goals.