Football season is here! Growing up, a lot of my life revolved around sports. Football in particular seemed to occupy a lot of my time and energy. This past week I had the unique opportunity to return to my high school and speak to the young Marine City Mariners. Coach Glodich, who I worked with closely when I was there had reached out and asked if I could come “speak from the heart” and share what life after football was like. When I finished my speech I was blown away from the thanks that I received from the team. Nearly every one of them came up to shake my hand. I was blown away by how polite these young men were. In their thank yous however, they probably did not realize that me giving this talk had done as much for me as it may have done for them. It was an opportunity for me to reflect on those days and lessons that were learned. The lessons that are carried with me and used daily. While I came up with this talk to share with my young Mariners, I think there are messages or reminders that should be shared among all student-athletes as we enter into the new school year. While Marine City holds a special place in my heart, believe me when I say that I follow all our local teams here in Macomb County and St. Clair County. Below is the talk that I had prepared for the team last week and I share it in hopes that it may find someone else that it speaks to. Best of luck to all of the student athletes out there this season! We will be cheering you all on as our local teams but also in your individual becoming and self development.
“Thank you coach. Its an honor to stand on this field and among you Mariners.
When coach asked me to speak, I asked if there was a topic that he would like me to address. I give a ton of talks and this by far has been the easiest to come up with. He told me to just speak from the heart. That’s easy because my heart is made up of the lessons that began right here on this field.
I can never thank Marine City enough for its roll in developing the man that I have become today. I want to share with you 5 of these lessons that I carry with me daily. I want you to listen closely as they had only begun here and did not fully develop until later in life. My mind at the time could not grasp these concepts fully at the time. I share this with you today in the hopes that you can see what I could not. In the hopes that you can stand on my shoulders and see farther than I.
Have you ever wondered what your very last play on the field would be like? The final memory that you will have as a Mariner as the seconds tick off the clock? I remember mine vividly. It was in the Regional finals against Grosse Ile. We were on defense and I was back at safety as they were taking the knee for a victory. I had a flashback and to this day when I think of my playing days this is the first thing that came to mind. I had played for 2 undefeated teams. Scored 26 touchdowns that year. Two of them in that final game but I also blew coverage to give up the winning touchdown. What do you think my final thoughts on that field were? It’s not what you think it is……ponder and we will circle back to 1.
The 2nd thing is leadership. Where are my captains? Stand up. A leader is not in the title, it is in the action. So I therefore address everyone of you, especially the ones on a knee still, when I say that being a leader is taking full ownership of your actions and their outcomes. You will never hear a coach or god willing a captain blame another player. How can YOU be better? We also want to lead up the chain of command. Be a leader in your position and ask questions to get your job done. Leaders take on responsibility for everything. Especially the failures.
Which leads me to lesson 3. Learn how to fail. I graduated the top of my dental school class because noone asked as many questions as me and noone failed as much as I did. The lessons we learn from our failures far outweigh our wins. You only truly fail if you do not get back up and try again.
How do we minimize failure? That’s through lesson 4. Preparation. Marine City football has been consistent year after year. We were never the biggest or the fastest. The one thing that sets us apart is as Peyton Manning puts it, We are relentless in our preparation. You can imagine how that has served me well through my career.
A very stressful career. People assume stress is a bad thing. I call lesson 5 ‘Becoming Tempered’ . Many do not realize that I enjoy the stress. Its the glory of the battle that is the real reward. We learn this here on this field. Few people I come across are fortunate enough to realize this. This week has arguably been one of the most stressful of my life. I thank the universe for the test. Without these test we would never have the opportunity to grow.
I bring you back to the final play of your Mariner career. I played on 2 undefeated teams. Broke the all time touchdown record in my senior season. In my final game against Grosse Ile I scored two touchdowns. I also let up a game winning touchdown. So what was my flashback, my last memory?
It was first 7 on 7 lining up with Kyle Pelzer. Spending endless nights in the weight room with Craig Lindke. It was battling out with Jon Kuzma in combos. It was taking warm up snaps from Matt Schindler.It’s the time spent with my backs, Mike Parslow and Kevin Cherluck It was just coming out here and competing with my best friends every single day. You don’t know any of these names and that doesn’t matter. What matters is today. These are the days that count. Right now is what counts. So my final lesson is this……look right now at the greatness that is before you. Be here in it. NOW. At all times.
Intimidate. Dominate. Go Black.”
Facebook Thank you! This was truly an honor.
Gerald W. Wesley, DDS, MS