A WALK ON MENTALITY

October 14, 2010

This past weekend while setting my fantasy football lineup and watching ESPN, I caught a great profile on Green Bay Packer’s linebacker Clay Matthews. He’s a beast of a linebacker and in the story he addressed having to “walk-on” the football team at USC. For those who don’t know, “walking on” means not having a scholarship and having to try-out to make the team. No small feat at USC. Of course, Matthews made the team and in the profile he addressed how having a “walk-on mentality” contributed to his collegiate and NFL success.

Like Matthews, I walked-on the track and field team at Western Michigan University, and can completely relate to his “walk-on” approach. I eventually earned a scholarship at WMU, all $2000 a year of it, but my walk-on mentality made me more focused on the track, in college, in life and in my career.

What Is A Walk On Mentality?

A “walk on mentality” means that nothing has been handed to you. You have to earn it and there’s never an opportunity to take it for granted. In short, you have to work harder. I utilized this focus in college to eventually become an all Mid American Conference all conference and academic triple jumper. Most importantly, I’ve utilized this approach in my career to awesome success. This “take nothing for granted” approach catapulted me from working temp jobs in New York City to co-hosting a television show on Nickelodeon to attending grad school at an Ivy League university to my success to today as a broadcast journalist. I want that same success for you so here are five tips on how a “walk-on mentality” can help you.

First In/Last Out

As a former boss once told me: if you’re on time – you’re late. Be the first in and the last to leave.

Do The Job No One Else Wants To Do

Everybody wants to land the “fun” jobs or take lead on a project. Join the club. However, a great way to become indispensable is by volunteering to do the job that no one else wants to do. It may not be glamorous, but you’ll prove your worth.

Invest In You

Don’t be afraid to spend money on you. These means attending workshops, taking classes, having your own website or purchasing business cards. All of this is critically important. My career took a turn when I used my vacations to volunteer working on a television show in Los Angeles and made some great connections.

Do The Job You Want To Do, Even If You’re Not Paid For It

I wanted to be a writer at Nickelodeon. Unfortunately, I was hired to be a production assistant. However, I wrote scripts every day and submitted them to the head writer. Before I knew it, actually, it took quite some time, my scripts were being produced on-air. And when someone left for another job, I became a staff writer. It only takes someone being out of the office one day for you to step up and prove your worth.

Got An Idea – Execute It

If you’re not doing and creating, you’re wasting time. Don’t wait to get hired to do something. Do it for you.

Good luck!

Antonio Neves is an award-winning broadcast journalist and author of Student Athlete 101: College Life Made Easy On & Off The Field.

www.antonioneves.net


SCORING IN LIFE

September 22, 2010

One thing that all student-athletes have in common is the confidence they exude in their respective sport. They’re determined, they’re focused, and they want to win at all costs. By transferring some of these skills off the field, student-athletes can also experience great success in life. In fact, and as I write in my book Student Athlete 101, student-athletes have an advantage in life based on their experience.

Here are three simple things student-athletes can do to get ahead.

1. BE PROACTIVE

Opportunities won’t fall in your lap. You must pursue them. Just like you have a game plan on the field, you must have one in life as well.  This means having goals, planning ahead, being organized and knowing how to prioritize. And just like in a game, once you’ve devised your plan, you must attack aggressively and do all you can to score. This is where you execute and take steps that will get you closer to your goals. To use a soccer analogy – instead of trying to score from midfield, make strategic passes that set you up for that winning goal in the box. These small steps can lead to success.

2. BE NETWORKED

It’s widely known that you become most like those with whom you associate, so it’s best to surround yourself with the right people who make you better. One thing successful people have in common is that they are focused, driven, and positive. Find these people and get to know them. They can be your teammates, classmates, coaches or new friends. As they say, if you’re the smartest person in your group, your group is too small. Your network is the foundation to your success, so don’t wait to start building it.

3. BE A ROLE MODEL

Student-athletes are leaders on and off the field and a respected member of their local communities. Set yourself apart from the crowd, and show them how student-athletes get it done. Contributing to causes beyond your required athletic obligations is a great thing worth pursing. You can accomplish this by volunteering with a local foundation, becoming a mentor, or just by lending a helping hand to someone in need. Make a positive contribution to your community. More often than not, you’ll get more out of the experience than you give.

Antonio Neves is an award-winning broadcast journalist and author of Student Athlete 101: College Life Made Easy On & Off The Field.


5 Things LeBron Missed Out On

June 16, 2010

With all the talk surrounding LeBron James’ future (C’mon LeBron!) and what NBA uniform he’ll wear this fall, it got me to thinking. What did LeBron miss out on choosing not be to a collegiate student-athlete?

I know what you’re thinking so let’s get 5 things out of the way.

  1. Yes, LeBron was NBA-ready straight out of high school and is arguably the best player in the game. However, watching these NBA Finals I’m sure Kobe Bryant would disagree.
  2. Yes, LeBron would have postponed (barring a serious injury) millions of dollars in contracts endorsements if he went to college. Tough to argue this point.
  3. Yes, LeBron probably wouldn’t be friends with Jay-Z (yet) if he went to college.
  4. Yes, he wouldn’t have hosted SNL if he went to college (not sure if this is a bad thing).
  5. Yes, he wouldn’t have made his sixth consecutive NBA All-Star game appearance this season if he went to college.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, here are 5 things LeBron would have gained becoming a collegiate student-athlete.

  1. Education: Sure, LeBron is basically earning an MBA in business with all of his astute deal-making. However, nothing can replace a college degree. Plus, and as they say, you learn more outside of the classroom than inside of it.
  2. The College Experience: Sure, LeBron has probably experienced many things that you and I could only dream of. However, college offers the opportunity to grow and make mistakes outside of the spotlight. From joining student organizations, attending cultural events, participating in an internship or studying abroad, college is a once in a lifetime experience.
  3. Building Lasting Relationships: Sure, during his meteoric rise LeBron has had to grow up fast. He’s fortunate to have an inner-circle of friends that have traveled this road with him to fame and fortune. However, there’s something to be said for checking into the dorm that first day and meeting your new roommate for the first time and building an amazing friendship. Further this takes place in the classroom, with professors and coaches.
  4. Leaving Ohio: Sure, LeBron can travel at his leisure on a private jet and his career has exposed him to the world. Still, he plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio. Nothing against Ohio, but getting away for college is an awesome experience for growth and learning.(Admittedly, I attended an in-state school for undergrad, Western Michigan University, but this is about LeBron.)
  5. NCAA Championship: Sure, not even the Fab 5 were able to win a NCAA Championship. However, I’m convinced LeBron could have accomplished this with numerous college programs. And it may have prepared him to win the big games at the NBA level.

So, did LeBron make the right move?

Antonio Neves is an award-winning broadcast journalist and author of, Student Athlete 101: College Life Made Easy On & Off The Field.


The Sometimes False Perception of Student-Athletes

June 14, 2010

Came across this article and it really jumped out from the first couple of paragraphs:

Student-athletes can be considered spoiled brats who do not have to work for anything.

They are the special people on campus who have everything handed to them. They have their books handed to them, and life is considered easy for the student-athlete….

Man, I wish it was that easy when I was running track at Western Michigan University. The only thing handed to me was tuition bill each semester. Point-blank: Being a university student-athlete is not easy. At one point I was balancing 5 classes, working a part-time job, active in student organizations and oh yeah, that athletic commitment. It’s nothing short of a major commitment with major comprises involved.

With all above the above written, I could never complain because being a student-athlete was also a major privilege that provided a lot of added-value in my life in college and after. Yes, it had some perks involved that I discuss in my book Student Athlete 101. But those perks for me weren’t free cars or meals at local restaurants. Rather, they were things like early registration for classes and one-on-one tutoring. The latter is actually available for the general student body as well at respective campus academic skills centers.

In short, and as the article points out with the below quote from a student-athlete, being a student-athlete is a challenge like no other.

“”We earn everything we get. We earn everything, because we know all eyes are on us. Some people look for a reason to get on to us, so why give them a reason too.


NCAA Division I Academic Progress On The Rise

June 10, 2010

Academic Progress Rates (APR), that are based on the eligibility and retention of each scholarship student-athlete, are up 3 points from 2009. The top possible APR score is 1,000 and if teams score below 925 they can face stiff penalties.

Something that catches my attention is that more than, “7,000 student-athletes have returned to campus and earned their degrees in the past six years.” That’s a big number and means these student-athlete’s haven’t given up on their all important education. Interestingly, almost half of these student-athletes participated in men’s football, baseball and basketball.

The NCAA says the policy adjustments over the years can be attributed to the improved academic results including:

  • Stringent progress-toward-degree requirements for current student-athletes
  • Increased core-course requirements for incoming student-athletes

In my opinion, and this is detailed in my book Student Athlete 101, the key to academic success for student-athletes is instilling the importance of delivering in the classroom from day one one campus. For me, it was always a matter of perspective. The classroom became the track that I competed on and I didn’t want to lose. It became a competition to kick butt each semester as I realized that my education would play a major role in my life and career. So for all of you student-athletes reading this, take that same energy and focus you use in your respective sport and apply it to the books. Win at all costs. Except cheating of course.

To read the full article on NCAA Division I academic progress click HERE.

(note: some information in this post originated in above article)


Some NCAA News

May 20, 2010

Some diverse news coming from the NCAA this week:

First, for all you college football fans, I love college football, the 2010 NCAA Divsion II football television schedule was announced. It’s exciting to check out all of the big matchups and even more exciting that they’ll be broadcast on the CBS College Sports Network. The 2010 football schedule will open Thursday, September 2, with West Texas A&M visiting Grand Valley State.

Second, NCAA men’s basketball attendance for the 2009-10 season surpassed 32 million. This number is ridiculous. But get this, that’s only the 4th highest told in history. The record: 33,396,316 set during the 2007-08 season.

Third, the NCAA’s Academic Performance Program recognized more than 800 Division I sports teams for awesome work in the classroom. NCAA Interim President Jim Isch said:

“Most Division I student-athletes and teams take seriously their dual responsibilities in the classroom and on the court or field of play, but every year there is a special category of teams that perform exceptionally well and deserve this noteworthy recognition.”

Lastly, the NCAA Student-Athlete Race/Ethnicity Report shows that while whites compose more than three-fourths of participants in all NCAA sports, African Americans compose a larger percentage of the remainder today than a decade ago. An example from the report:

In football, black student-athletes accounted for almost 34 percent of the players in 2008-09. That’s well above the percentage in 1999-2000 (28.1 percent) but fairly steady over the last four years. Whites, meanwhile, have gone from 63.1 percent in 1999-2000 to 58.8 percent in 2008-09.

So there’s a little NCAA update for you from the good folks at Student Athlete 101. Thank you NCAA.org

(note: some information in this post originated on NCAA.org)


Is There Life For Student-Athletes After College?

April 16, 2010

The short answer – YES.

One of the topics I write about in my book, Student Athlete 101: College Life Made Easy On & Off The Field, is how student-athletes can prepare themselves for life after college.The truth is that only a small percentage of  make it to the professional ranks. And for those that do, a professional sports career doesn’t last forever. However, based on their experience, student-athletes are in an amazing position to succeed in their careers after graduation.

This topic is highlighted in THIS ARTICLE about the awesome work the University of Missouri is doing to prepare their student athletes for life after sports. Get this: They have a job fair just for their student-athletes. Awesome. Here are some other things that stood out in the article:

Free Resources: “Like other NCAA schools, Missouri has a team of employees dedicated to enhancing its athletes’ “life skills” — from academic tutors to community service organizers. For a growing number of Division I institutions, that also means helping players find jobs.”

What recruiters are looking for: “…the intangible qualities — leadership, sacrifice, time management, a willingness to take criticism — that can translate from success on the field to success in the workplace.”

The student-athlete advantage: “The roughly 500 Missouri athletes receive far more individualized care than the 8,000 students who visit the campus career center in person or online each year…”

Career Development Programs: “(Missouri’s) ...starts with first-year athletes researching potential majors and learning how to write a basic resume. They can later participate in mock interviews, etiquette dinners and alumni network events.”

You can’t beat the above. And guess what, all the above topics are covered in Student Athlete 101.