There may come a time in your life when you may need to make a decision that will alter the course of your life’s path. For some it may come when deciding to attend college or go into the workforce. For others it may be making the decision to attend college A rather than college B, C, D, or E. Further down the road, the decision may be about getting married, moving away from home, accepting a new job across the country, etc.
Sometimes, the decision involves a combination of the decisions listed above, with an added twist. Chasing a dream with little chance of achieving or reaching it. A dream that requires equal parts physical and psychological effort. A dream that can be realized once every four years. The Olympic dream.
In the past I’ve written about being a dream chaser. Chasing a goal that stretches us emotionally. Physically. It tests our strength. It tests our resolve. It tests our grit and resiliency. What are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goal? I know what one person is willing to sacrifice. I also know someone that was afraid to chase.
After Luis graduated in 2016, I encouraged him to continue throwing as a graduate student. I encouraged him to apply for graduate assistantship positions; coach, train, and go to class all while continuing to chase his goals. Luis did just that. He was our graduate assistant at Nazareth College for two years. He just graduated with his Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management, the Puerto Rican National Record in the 35# Weight Throw, and the opportunity of a lifetime.
I’ve always encouraged my athletes to ask questions if they weren’t sure about something or simply wanted to learn more. I reach out to coaches all the time. I ask questions. I also answer questions when asked of me. I see it as a way of paying it forward. I have always similarly maintained that you never know what opportunities may be presented to you if you keep your options open, are willing to learn and listen, and are able to escape your comfort zone. Keeping with the theme of this post, I encouraged Luis that if he really wanted to continue throwing and chasing his throwing dream, this was the time to do it. Graduate degree in hand, Luis applied to a multitude of jobs across the country in the hopes of securing a position that would provide him time to train.
Sometimes the relationships we develop and nurture manifest themselves over time. You never know how you interact with someone in 2015 will influence a decision in 2018. Case in point-you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Make it worthwhile. While attending a conference in December, 2015, Luis and I had the chance to speak with Jud Logan and some of his athletes while attending a conference at the Spire Institute. Those conversations, along with constant communication after the fact, paved the way for Luis to be granted a great opportunity. An opportunity that I think most throwers in the United States covet but may not be willing to take up.
Luis made the decision to chase his dream. He made arrangements to move to Ohio and drive a few times a month to Ashland University to train with Jud. While making these arrangements, he applied for a position as an Admissions Counselor at Ashland University. Interviewed for the position and was offered the job. At this point, I believe there was still a little bit of doubt and some trepidation in regards to moving away from what he knew to really realize his dream and take advantage of the opportunity presented to him.
On July 2nd, Luis started his new position in Admissions at Ashland University. He also got his first training session in under the rebuild phase, two years out from the 2020 Olympic Trials. Now, there are no guarantees that he will ultimately throw 75m and make the Olympic Team. However, he has put himself in a much better situation than he was before-comfortable in what he knew and what he was accustomed to.
This story may not be like many others that I have heard about, read about, or learned about from the people that experienced a similar situation. In 2002, AG Kruger, fresh off of a stellar Division II throwing career, packed up his life and drove to Ashland University to give himself a chance at making the 2004 Olympic Team. He brought with him a personal best throw of just about 65m in the hammer, and in two years threw far enough to make the Team. Alvin and Calvin Harrison (400m runners) slept in their car in Santa Monica, CA just to train with the Santa Monica Track Club. They had successful careers in the 400m and as members of the 4x400m relay team. That is a short list of occurrences, but these three individuals made ultimate sacrifices in order to chase their dreams.
For those of you that are still reading, how far are you willing to go in order to achieve your goals? What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to realize your dreams? One of my favorite YouTube video’s is of former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz speaking at the University of Texas on April 8, 2015. In his presentation to the Texas football team, Coach Holtz lays out five questions for the team to ask themselves about what they are willing to do in order to win and become champions. You can watch the video by clicking the following link https://youtu.be/_eWqyIBtn8I.
I believe most people have dreams and goals. Things they want to accomplish in their lives. Some aren’t willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve them. That’s ok. Like my conversation with Dan Chambliss a few months ago. He pointed out that it was ok if my athletes didn’t want to be the best throwers they could be. It is still difficult for me to accept that. Dabo Sweeney, Clemson’s head football coach, may have said it best on Jon Gordon’s podcast, “Would you rather live with the pain of discipline or the pain of regret?”
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Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.