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To my first year self,

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of playing football at the Division 1 level. I worked tirelessly my entire childhood to ensure that would be a possibility for me. I didn’t simply want to make and exist within the team, I wanted to have a significant role. I wanted to be that young man scoring touchdowns on national television in front of thousands of people. I believed with every fiber in my body that I had the ability to enable that dream to come to fruition. At the conclusion of my spectacular high school career, I felt I had collected accolades significant enough to grant me the opportunity to make my dream come true. However, I was left with Ivy League school offers/interest and lower level division 1 double A schools. My family and I made the decision to attend Yale, believing that would be the best fit for me. Right before signing my National Letter of Intent, I received a preferred walk-on offer from the University of Virginia. There was no debate: this was my chance, and I had every intention of taking advantage of it.

When I reported to school, my understanding of a walk-on was far from the truth. The recruiters portrayed it as just another player, but without a scholarship. So I decided I would just have to work my way up. I soon realized they sold me a story, and boy did I buy it. A walk-on is essentially a practice player. Our only role is to be a practice dummy for the guys actually expected to play on Saturdays. Having the dreams I did and still currently do, being a walk-on was a major roadblock. For a while I worked so hard with no visible progress. I received no real reps, no real attention, I felt useless and unimportant, and my dreams seemed as if they may never happen. There were many times where I felt as though football wasn’t for me, and like my dream was too far fetched. Luckily I had parents to encourage me to stay the course and stay true to my hard working, perseverant self. It took time but finally I feel as though my dreams are being realized, and that I am doing what I set out to do.

So, my advice to my younger self or any young student is simply to ask themselves two questions:

1) What are your goals and dreams?
2) How long are you willing to wait to see your dreams take shape?

You will wait for five years to get an opportunity. For five years you will work tirelessly with no promise of your dreams coming true. Five years of mentally battling with yourself, questioning your identity and what you believe. You have to remember that what is delayed is never deferred. If you want something, give everything you have to achieve it, and in due time it will come to fruition. Patience and perseverance are key aspects of life that you will surely have to embody pursuing your goals. You can do anything you put your mind to, never think otherwise.


Perris Jones

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