Patric Young here back in action for blog post number two. Salutations to all my readers that stumble upon this attempt to give you another inside look from the student-athlete’s perspective. I’m usually a little slow with these things, but as soon as I get going ideas and creativity flow like a faucet. I’ve been thinking about my time here so far as a gator and realized how fast it goes by. Two years ago I was in my senior year at Providence School in Jacksonville, Florida winning my first state championship, and now I am in my sophomore year deciding whether pursue a career as a pro or stay a Gator after a pretty good season. (If you didn’t know I am returning for my junior year).
After the season was over and I made my (easy) decision, I began to think about the things that influence a student-athlete to leave early and go pro. I mean every situation is different for every person, but I am more than positive that there is nothing else on earth that even comes close to the 4-year experience of being a collegiate athlete. I’m not just talking about pleasure and joy from college, but the tough experiences that mold boys into men and really prepare you for that next level. For example, a guy like Kwame Brown who goes straight to the league lacks the maturity and knowledge of what it takes to not only be successful, but the importance of taking care of your body during an 82 game season. Being the number one pick in his draft class Kwame probably had insurmountable expectations from everyone, especially since Michael Jordan was the guy that wanted him drafted. I’m not saying that it can’t happen but not thinking about basketball, college in itself is a once in a lifetime experience, and after you leave there is no going back … all that’s left is your memories.
I’m currently involved in an independent study that requires me to interview a diverse group of people involved in athletics including coaches, trainers, academic advisors, current pro players, former pros, and so forth. One common theme that I’ve learned from interviewing these people is that everybody’s situation is different and everyone has different values. Student athletes that are not as financially fortunate growing up may take advantage of the opportunity to take care of their family. Other’s may take looking ahead to their future and strive to get their degree so if something were to happen they have a sound education to fall back on and can use their sport as a gateway to another career. Is either choice right or wrong? Again, it comes down to values and whatever a person considers to be happiness/success. We can all have our opinions, but it is that person who has to live with their decision for the rest of their life.
You guys are probably wondering why I decided to stay. The opportunity to make money attempted to persuade me, but I elected to return my junior year. Let me break it down with the only way I know how … I LOVE THE FLORIDA GATORS and I LOVE BEING A FLORIDA GATOR. I cannot explain it any better than that. I can remember coming up to Gainesville with my grandparents as a kid to tailgate every year. My favorite childhood Gator memory was catching the PAT and throwing the football back against Vanderbilt. Destiny? Yep. Another common theme that I recorded from my interviewees in my study was a question that really ties in with a person’s values. Is that student-athlete willing to give up what they have right now? I self reflected on that very question and I have a very stern NO in response. I love my coaches, teammates, and the fans. Becoming a gator was the best decision of my life and one thing I can undoubtedly tell my kids I got right. Just thinking about the team we are going to have next year excites me, that is going to be my team that I will lead through battle every day, this team next year will be special, we are starving for a final four and a championship and hopefully I can contribute as a leader.