What is it about your talents that separate you from others near you and around the world? This is one of the questions I ask myself when I look into the eyes of each of Eagle Rock’s student athletes.
Could they be as skilled as Michael Jordan? Could they ever be good enough to play NCAA Division I basketball — or any other sport at the collegiate level for that matter? The answer to that question is unobtainable at the moment. But in my head, I’d like to believe that we have student athletes — especially here at Eagle Rock — who can obtain anything they set their mind to.
However, if I believe — and if these student athletes believe — that such goals as playing collegiate-level athletics are unattainable and impossible, then maybe we’re asking ourselves the wrong questions. What we should be asking is how we can better support our student athletes both on and off the court in order to show them that the possibilities in this life are endless.
One thing we could be teaching our student athletes is that while we have no control over the degree of the natural athletic gifts and talents with which we were born, we can certainly strive to achieve and Improve upon those gifts.
Truth is, Michael Jordan — like LeBron James — didn’t become the athletes they are today by staring at a basketball. These individuals became legends because they dedicated their time, training and sweat to the thing they loved most passionately.
The way I see it, individual and team sports and life share a lot of similarities. At the end of the day, we must teach our students to develop strengths that allow them to see what separates them from the rest of the pack. And if there’s one thing we want to emphasize, it’s that we are here to help them identify and build upon what makes them unique. And then work diligently on that gift.
Whether we’re teaching them how to make the team, earn playing time, or to maybe one day play professionally, our biggest gift to our students is for them to leave have an understanding of community and their unique role therein. And how to be forever strong — both on and off the many different fields of competition they’re likely to face throughout their long lives ahead.
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About The Author: Omar Arteaga the 2016/2017 Public Allies Fellow In Residential Life at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo., having earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. Throughout college, Omar was part of groups and programs that were centered on giving back to underprivileged youth. Since graduation he is continuing this path through residential life activities that help youth develop life skills by working within supportive and engaging team environments.