My freshman year of high school I noticed that I wasn’t the most talented or skillful player on our football team. A lot of the older guys and even players my age were a lot better then I was. They had a lot of talent and a lot of skill. I had, well, not so much. I wanted to be better and wanted to get playing time because I loved the game of football. But I knew that just loving the game wasn’t enough to get me playing matches on the field. I knew that I needed to work hard to improve many aspects of my game. My father used to tell me, “You cannot always control if you’re the most talented or skilled player on the field, but what you can control is if you are the hardest working player on the field”. And that is what I decided to do. I didn’t care if we were practicing drills, doing fitness, or playing a match. My goal was to be the hardest worker on the field.
As I worked harder, I began to get in better shape, I became stronger and faster, and more skills began to develop. By the end of my first season, my playing time went from a few minutes every other game to getting at least 20 minutes every game. In the offseason, I continued to work hard. Even though the season was done, I still wanted to improve because my goal was to become a starter the next season.
When preseason finally started, and we began training, I decided to be the first one to the field and the last to leave. That meant getting to the field early, before anyone else, to do extra fitness and work on skills on which I may have been struggling. It also meant being at the field after training to continue to push myself and improve. Two games into the season the coaches started me for the first time. I was so happy and excited. I knew that when I stepped on the field with the rest of the starters that I was the least experienced. I knew that even if I was inexperienced and not the best on the field, I could still be the hardest working one. After that game, the coaches made me a regular starter. At the end of my sophomore year, my goal of being a starter was accomplished. But even though I was a starter I knew that there was still more improvements to be made.
My junior year I decided that I wanted to prove myself as an important player in our team. I realized that I was now part of the older players on our team. There were players younger than me that weren’t as talented and not as skilled, just like I was as a freshman. But just because I was one of the older and better players now didn’t mean that I needed to stop working hard. I knew that I needed to work harder than ever. There were teams out there that were better than us, and I wanted to get better not just for me but also to help our team beat the other teams. The reason to work hard had changed. I used to work hard so I can get onto the team. Now that I made it onto the team, I needed to work hard to help everyone improve. I was working hard for the whole team.
My senior year I knew that this was the time to work the hardest. The other seniors and I were now the leaders of the team. When I first started my freshman year I was one of the worst players my age. Now, my senior year, I was voted captain and MVP by the same players that were more talented and more skilled then I was my freshman year.
What changed? Why weren’t the players that were more talented than me get those honors? The one answer I could give you is hard work. I decided that I was going to work hard to accomplish my goal. Hard work isn’t easy. Hard work takes a long time. Hard work hurts. Hard work takes discipline and dedication. But I can promise you that putting in the hard work is worth it. No matter what your dream or goal in life, the only way to accomplish it is to work hard. Play hard on the field, study hard in school, and work hard in your job.