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A note to my younger self: Why I urge student-athletes to go back

If I could talk to my younger self…” is the way a lot of people start off a sentence before describing something they regret. It could be about life, love, or a number of other things but nine times out of ten, that sentence ends with some glass half empty-esque notion of a situation that was completely unforeseeable.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I share that regret too. Because if I could talk to my younger self, specifically last summer, I would’ve had a very simple message:

Stop bitching.

Now, this is generally my attitude towards any kind of adversity, not that everything can be solved by just toughening up…but it does expedite most healing processes.

And just to be fair, when I say “b*tching” I’m referring to complaining without a plan of action to actually fix the issue. Anyway, last summer I had a decision to make between accepting a coaching role at Villanova or going for another job.

These were my only options because about two weeks prior, I tore my ACL, LCL, PCL and hamstring in a workout at LaSalle. The position was on the table because my coach, Coach Wright, thought it would be a win-win for me to do my rehab at school while working with a team, in a year, that had mostly new faces.

The only thing that kept me from taking the job, which was the obvious choice was me, b*tching.

In my defense, my years at ‘Nova were some of my most uncomfortable in life and it wasn’t always due to growth. So I b*tched about what could go wrong, who I might not see eye to eye with, and the free time I’d be missing out on… Pretty much I honed in on everything that could go wrong.

One day I was going on and on about everything negative that was out of my control until somebody challenged me to simply look at what could positively go right. I accepted the job the next day and I don’t remember ever feeling like I made the wrong choice.

Being back on campus felt weird at first. It was kind of like pulling off my own version of 22 Jump Street. At the moment, I felt like if anyone questioned me what I was doing, the jig would be up.

This couldn’t have been further from the reality of the situation. In reality, people were happy to have me back on campus because of who I was as a student-athlete and how I played my role on the team.

I spent my time partially coaching the team and partially building my brand, Stay Tuned Network. There was only an abysmally small amount of time, getting closure on everything I left unsettled after I graduated.

It’s no secret that a lot of college athletes aren’t happy with their college experience and although I was happy with my choice in a school, I can’t say that I was completely fulfilled.

A year later the most FAQs are “how’s the media stuff doing” and “so what’s next?” I’m happy I can say the media work is growing every day and “next” involves me doing some freelance work, continuing my show Stay Tuned with D.Rey, writing for several sites like Kulture Hub and independently creating as much content as possible.

In a melodramatic sign off post on IG I said:

“I urge all student-athletes to return to their universities, even if it’s for a summer internship.”

Here’s why: College athletics is a touchy business, there’s a lot of good and just like anything else in this world, some bullshit sprinkled in.

Still, the only way to find peace within discord is to find out why things are the way they are. Furthermore, the only way to change it is to learn the who’s coaching, who’s playing, and who’s cheering.

Then playing your part to the fullest.


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