October 23, 2016

Nathan Smeal

Purpose Trumps Winning

purposeIt’s the heart of the fall season. While most people enjoy pumpkin-flavored everything, I love this season for one reason and that’s football!  I played the game for 13 seasons during high school and college.

I love football because it’s about teamwork. It’s truly a game of inches. If you’re a split second too soon or too late, it’s the difference between a touchdown and a pick six.

I didn’t have an outstanding career. I wasn’t the best player on a team. Heck, I wasn’t even the best player in the family – my brother was much better!

But, I did it anyway. I loved the game; I was part of the team.

The summer prior to my senior year in high school, I remember being only one of just a few guys consistently in the in the weight room. In college, I got up at five am – three days a week – to practice drills, while the rest of the campus slept. It makes me angry when I hear about guys at the big schools who get kicked off their team. They squander their opportunity with stupidity. I would have given anything for an opportunity to play at a Division I school.

Throughout my 13 years of football, I was injured twice – once in my junior year of high school and once in my senior year of college. By the second injury, I knew my years of playing the game had come to an end. Sure, I felt sorry for myself. But, like any long term relationship, there was a mourning period, and then I got over it and moved on.

But, I was still involved. I wasn’t giving up because I was hurt. I just wanted to make a difference. I went to practices, traveled with the team and attended game days, just as fired up as if I were dressed in uniform.

It made me feel alive to be there and be a part of something. It gave me purpose.

I think the total experience has given me a deeper appreciation for life.  I firmly believe that we don’t fully value something, until we have to work for it. No matter the outcome.

Hard work, alone, doesn’t make us better people. It doesn’t mean we will win. But it does give us an opportunity to be a part of something that we can appreciate because we worked hard for it.

This blog was originally published on nathansmeal.com.

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