“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
By Greg Smith
My father hammered that quote into my skull my entire life. It stuck. I didn’t use the same terminology as a parent to my kids, but the main idea made the generational transition. I told my kids to be the authors of their own self-definition. “Don’t let anyone’s opinion of you change the way you feel about yourself and your abilities.”
My son Donovan thinketh he is a pretty darn good football player. He has thought that since the day he putteth a helmet on as a child.
In middle school, he was the starting quarterback and led his team to the championship game. In ninth grade, he was all district. In tenth grade, he was the starting junior varsity quarterback and in the spring of that year, he started at quarterback on the varsity team. He believeth he should have started his junior year but instead, was forced to stand on the sidelines, his talents not utilized at all until late in the season when he was put in at wide receiver. Of course he shineth at that position.
As a senior in high school, he accounteth for over 1,000 yards receiving and rushing. He was named to the Sun Herald All-Coast team and had a “highlight” touchdown reception in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic. But the college scholarship offers didn’t flow as he had expected. Out of high school, instead of accepting a Division II offer, he chose instead to play at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, improve his game and move on from there to a 4-year Division I school.
At Gulf Coast, his role on the team never really reached the level that he aspired. He played sparingly as a freshman. As a sophomore, he started and played in every game, but didn’t get the ball thrown to him much. He finished the season with 12 catches for 105 yards.
After games, I would have to calm him down and remind him to keep believing in himself. “What do I have to do?” he would ask me.
“Keep working hard in practice. Keep a positive attitude and put ‘team’ first. Keep blocking hard. Don’t take plays ‘off.’ Stay enthusiastic. You know who you are, and the truth will one day be revealed.” It was my weekly, post-game on-the-field sermon.
After the season, only two Division II offers came in. Should he have accepted one of them? Perhaps, but Donovan believeth in himself. In his mind, he is, without a doubt, a Division I talent. So he called the coaches at the University of Southern Mississippi who told him to enroll in school and come on the team as a “preferred walk-on.”
He’s not celebrating. Donovan hasn’t played one down for the Golden Eagles. He will probably “redshirt” this year and won’t see the field until the fall of 2015. But for now, his name is on a locker at Southern Miss. He is a Division I college football player! And I admire his courage, determination and his belief in himself.
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” I thinketh I’m a pretty proud poppa.