Wednesday, September 20th, 2017
Feeling sharp, focused, ready.
Sliding out for a through ball to make a play late in the first half against Reno, and my season is over in a blink of an eye.
As I attempted to make a play sliding in to collect a through ball, my teammate Coady Andrews and I collided knee-to-knee. Immediately I felt a shock run down my leg and instant excruciating pain. Initially I held my leg thinking my shin was broken. I briefly had the thought that I could just “walk it off” but as I laid on the turf I knew something was seriously wrong. As a team we were starting to hit our stride and personally felt that I was in very good form, so not being able to continue on with my brothers definitely felt terrible.
Fast forward a few days later, I’m sitting in the doctorʼs office back in OKC as the MRI results were delivered.
Grade 3 PCL tear - an injury usually sustained in American football.
Obviously I was heartbroken, but I also knew that it was important to become the best corner man for my team that I could possibly be.
I donʼt want this article to have a tone of “Why me?” Rather, Iʼd like to show all the good that has come to my life since that day.
First and foremost, Iʼve got so much damn love for OKC and our organization. We have been able to build something great in a relatively short amount of time and I am extremely excited to see what the future holds for football in our city.
Rehabbing from this injury has been tough at times, especially now that the season is underway. Having said that, I believe it is imperative that the focus of any player coming back from injury is “can I get 1% better TODAY than I was yesterday?”
Progress with rehabbing this injury is measured by range of motion, quad and hamstring strength, and expanding workload. For reference, two weeks post surgery I wasnʼt able to sit in a chair and put my socks on by myself. Today - roughly halfway through the rehab process - I am able to strike a ball, move laterally, and dive.
My belief when it comes down to setting goals for myself is to take care of the “micro” or day-to-day work, and the “macro” - returning to play at 100% - will take care of itself.
There have been days where my knee doesnʼt cooperate, be it colder weather or heavier workload from the day before, and itʼs imperative that I listen to my body. I have documented the process on my Instagram on a monthly basis and every now and again, if I feel a bit frustrated, I will refocus by having a look back at where I was only a few short months ago. I know that there is still plenty of work to do and I will continue to climb that mountain but I am starting to have breakthrough after breakthrough and I am confident that Iʼll be back soon.
Quoting J. Cole - (Not Tampaʼs midfielder) - “there is beauty in the struggle.”. The hardships you face and how you go about them will reveal everything youʼll ever need to know about yourself. Waking up sore, stiff, and uncomfortable is the current reality for me, and would make anyone question why the hell they continue to put themselves through it.
In sports, and life for that matter, the path to any success isnʼt an unimpeded, upwards ascent without obstacles. Instead, itʼs filled with incremental progress and inevitable road blocks, with the key being how you are able internalize both success and failure, without being defined by either.
Working through this process has helped me become more empathetic to those around me and has also reminded me that football is what I do, but it is not who I am.
Confidence and Self-Belief
Confidence comes from your perception of your own potential.
Iʼve been driven by wanting to exceed my own potential for as long as I can remember. With this mindset I have transferred it from the pitch to the training room; and ultimately to how I live my life. Sometimes in life, when you hit a rough point like sustaining a severe injury like this, your confidence can take a blow. Wondering if Iʼll ever be able to perform at the level that I performed at prior to the injury was, and still is, a constant question that I ask myself throughout this process. As I continue to progress and reach milestone after milestone though, my mind becomes more and more at ease. Growing up, my strong self-belief was formed mainly from either being the last pick or not being picked at all. I was made to feel that I was less than by coaches and other players. So with this being the case for most of my youth career, I didnʼt just accept it, I worked and worked and worked at it.
Ultimately my self-belief manifested itself on the pitch where I began to perform and could no longer be ignored. Mentally, itʼs extremely difficult for a young kid to not be defined by another person’s perception of you, but if you are able to use it as a driving force turning it from a headwind to a tailwind - it can be extremely beneficial.
With those experiences behind me, I now know in my heart that if I give everything I possibly can to a certain task or goal,everything else will take care of itself.
Self-belief is something Iʼve leaned on quite heavily these past months. Day-in and day-out, the goals that are in front of me seem unattainable at times and itʼs important to battle that by quickly moving forward with internal reassurance that I will!
I am a believer that you can “speak things into existence,” provided your words are accompanied by the effort required of course.
The voice in my head speaks positively at all times.
The music I listen to, the podcasts, books, and the people I spend my time with are all INSPIRING.
That is a huge factor in recovering properly.
If your head is constantly filled with negative thoughts, how can you expect to come back strong? Iʼm not in competition with anyone else, only in competition with myself to become the best ME I possibly can. I also find inspiration in my teammates on a daily basis, and I feel that is the way it should be. Early on in my career, I thought that if I went into any specific game with anger and aggression being the leading emotions, I would play better and ultimately be more successful.
Boy, was I mistaken.
Anger is heavy. It may work for two or three games but youʼll ultimately find yourself exhausted. Love and pure enjoyment of the challenge are now the two driving factors in my game and shifting my approach in this way has helped immensely. I no longer want to “kill” the opponent. I still play with controlled aggression, but the focus now is to out-prepare and out-execute them.
I absolutely adore this game for everything it has given me. I’ve learned that there are two types of professional athletes; ones that are humble, and those who are about to be.
Iʼve also learned that real leaders are ones who serve. To be a true leader of men you donʼt need all the answers, you simply need to be available for your fellow brother, empathetic towards them, reliable both on and off the field, and a steady presence when things arenʼt going your way.
In a team environment itʼs important that you have a feel for the changing room. My approach in the last few years has led me to be the “glue” of the squad.
As an individual, Iʼve been fortunate to experience the winning feeling that comes with championships, but also know the awful feeling of defeat.
Iʼve seen what both success and failure can do to people.
My mindset has evolved for the better over the years and Iʼve still got a long long way to go. In fact, Iʼll never be the “finished product” everyone so desperately strives to be and thatʼs ok!
I enjoy bringing people who have vastly different personalities and backgrounds together in an attempt to achieve something extraordinary. Constant growth both mentally and physically is the name of the game, and Iʼm all in on it.
Thank you for your interest in my journey and I look forward to what the future holds!
“May the wind always be at your back, and the sun upon your face”