Inspiration for our Young Men who are off to College!

Connecting with a person to get your point across is as easy as getting on their level?  Especially, when you’re trying to relay a message to the opposite sex or to a person who may be younger or older than you.

When it was finally time for my nephew to walk the stage after completing High School, I knew I wanted to leave him with a message.  He was completing one goal and getting ready to start another; as he’ll be heading to college in the fall.  Society loves to down play achievements such as these for African-American males but on the flip side they are quick to say one is a thug of sorts.  Therefore, it was my goal to inspire him!

But I had to figure out what my “inspiration” would look like.  After a few days of thinking, I figured there was no better way to relay this message to him but through Basketball.  Basketball is something we both enjoy watching and since we’ve had a few conversations around the Sport, I figured this was perfect.

Take a look at how I leveled off with him:

How will your game play out?  Do you have your team ready?  Are you going to give it your all?  Are you motivated and confident?  Tipoff is around the corner….and there’s no turning back now!

As a high school graduate, this is only the first quarter.  Huddle with me as I would like to highlight a few pointers that I hope you will carry with you wherever you go.  These next few years will be the years that will shape you forever.  These years will most likely be the best years of your life.

  1. You’re playing the game that a lot of kids your age wish they could play.  When opportunities arrive, the key is to take full advantage of them.  Who doesn’t love a great rebound?  Going forward, you will learn to adapt to situations, you will appreciate the struggle, the carefree times, and the joy of learning the advantages of being an adult along with the sacrifices you will have to make as well.  You’re a rookie, like Jayson Tatum with unmeasurable potential.  Show us whose next!

  2.  You’re playing the game of responsibility.  It is up to you to make sure you get up to make it to class.  It is up to you to keep up with your work and to turn it in on time. It is up to you to build a relationship with your Professors.  It is up to you to go the extra mile.  Honestly, your Professors won’t even know who you are, especially in a class of 100 students.  If you miss class, they’re not going to call you or your parents. You have to take on that responsibility.  This is your arena.

  3. In your game, you must keep your focus.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, you just have to have balance.  If I’ve never taught you anything else, remember this: DO NOT GET A GIRL PREGNANT IN COLLEGE.  You don’t want to end up like your Aunt; in college with a baby on the way.  This is like a flagrant foul. Always, protect yourself at all times…..contact isn’t always necessary.

  4. In your game, you should also go to church when possible.  I know it will be a hard, especially in the beginning with no car.  But perhaps you may find a friend who you can accompany.  Or maybe there’s a church service on campus.  Some things are just necessary at times, and this is one of them.  Never forgot where you come from and the foundation that has been laid for you.  Never forget the only ONE who can redeem you and make a way out of no way for you.  Think of it as having to do a press conference after a game…it’s required, it’s necessary, and it’s important.  Do not be afraid to be a leader.

  5.  Your game should be fun.  So be sure to enjoy yourself and experience life and what it has to offer, however, it is most important that you concentrate on your studies and school work as well.  The ball is in your court.  Getting your work done is like attending practices and bettering yourself.  It’s the only way to succeed.  At all times, you will have to come through in the 3rd quarter, clutch style like Curry and Klay.  You’re going to have to protect what’s yours, just like Draymond.  You’re going to have to be ready for the opportunity and do what’s best for you, as if you are KD! You have to be determined to win and to succeed.  You are the Champion!!

  6.  Always be true to you.  Remember your purpose and your end goal.  You want to be undefeated.  You don’t just want to be in the playoffs but you want to win.  You want the degree, the great job, the great career, etc.

  7.  College will not be easy, but it will be worth it.  You have to stay with it, you have to put forth the effort and the time.  Leave it all on the court and stick with it, just like LeBron!  And like LeBron, remain humble and positive at all times.  Do whatever it takes to get the win.

  8.  At some point you will want to return home, to visit at least.  First year college students say they’ll never want to come home but believe me, you will.  Why do you think players do their best on their home court?  Because it’s comfortable.  You have a crowd pushing you and rooting for you.  Don’t be a stranger.  Besides, we will miss you too much.

  9.  Everything you do from this point forward will reflect your game, on and off the court.  During college and after college.  Your attitude towards situations will determine your altitude.  You have to work in order to survive.  Sometimes, it’s not what you know but who you know.  Be smart.  Think twice.  But most importantly, be willing to learn.  A commentator doesn’t just become a commentator.  They have to know the game, sometimes they’ve even played the game.  They understand the rules and regulations.  Be willing to know the rules and to abide by the rules.

  10.  You have an amazing support system, including myself.  Think of me as the Assistant Coach…I have your back and I’m one of your biggest fans.  I guess I’ll leave the number one fan for your mom or grandma, besides, what’s a game without a great bench? #StrengthInNumbers You’re up 3 to 3—all you need is one game to win the series.  What are you going to do?  —Your assistant coach!

What do you think?  You like?  I know it’s long; when I gave it to my nephew, he said, Auntie…it’s 3 pages! LOL

As you can see, I’ve done a lot of name dropping in this letter of inspiration to my nephew.  But he’s familiar with those people and it helps him to relate and to understand.  There’s a lot of basketball references and jargon throughout this piece as well but again–it’s all about being able to grab the attention of who you are trying to connect with.

If you have a young man in your life and you wish to use this letter or variations of it–feel free!  Just be sure you credit the author–Toya Hash 🙂

*Just for the record, the personal portions of this letter were removed before sharing it with all of you. *

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