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Dear first year Owayne,

We made it man! And by made it I mean you graduated! Remember how you always used to say you’re not going to make it past two years? Well, you did, and you came back for an extra year! Crazy right? You fell in love with this place man. You really grew to love UVA.

You’ve matured a whole lot, both physical and mentally. I can say with some confidence that you became the man your family would be proud of. You didn’t lose your hard working attitude and your discipline. You fought through some tough times and became an example for many to follow. You achieved a lot in the 5 years you spent here, but that’s not the point of this letter. Instead, I want to give you some advice that’s going to help you and those around you, so here goes:

1) For every phase of your life, set small and reasonable goals that you can accomplish and that you will be proud of once you accomplish them. Always be realistic.
2) Being a student-athlete means you must commit your time, energy, focus, and attention to being the best student and athlete that you can. Everything else that you think you need will fall into place eventually. Trust me on that.
3) Find good friends who share similar goals and visions. Don’t try to fit in with the crowd. You won’t find your true self by fitting in and wanting to be something you’re not.
4) When things get overwhelming, use the resources provided by the sports psychology department. These resources are life changing and provide you with useful perspectives on your life.
5) Be good friends with your professors, they are great resources for finding internships, networking, providing life advice, and granting generous extensions for assignments 😊.
6) Whenever you do have an injury, because you will at some point, commit to rehab and always communicate with your trainers and coaches. Don’t lose hope and be discouraged, you’re going to come back stronger and better.
7) This one is important. Please develop an identity and a life outside your sport. This will keep you sane in the times when you are injured and can’t be as involved in your sport as much as you’d like. There’s also a lot more to you than being an athlete, so explore other avenues and find new passions. You can make a difference in other spaces, you only need to be adventurous.
8) Stay true to your spiritual faith, sometimes it’s going to be the main source of strength and direction that gets you through tough times.
9) Lastly, enjoy every single moment of your time here at the University. You’re going to meet some amazing people and you’re going to experience some historical moments. Embrace and cherish both, for you won’t get another chance to be a HOO!

I think that list should be good enough until we meet up. Take care of yourself!

All love man, Future Owayne

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