Sacrifice brings great reward

There are many individuals who have made countless sacrifices in my life to ensure that I had the opportunity to be successful.

As I reflect about those loved ones, I realized I could write an entire book regarding the skills and knowledge they equipped me with to achieve my goals in life. To be honest, I will never be able to repay them, and I will always be indebted to them for their sacrifices.

Sacrifice is powerful, and it is hard to sometimes fathom what loved ones have provided for my personal gain.
During my playing days at Michigan State, there were many times when I wanted to throw in the towel after a tough workout and experiencing adverse situations such as lack of playing time and academic pressure.

Link to original article in USA Football.

When those moments arose, I thought about all of the sacrifices those individuals made for me, and that helped me push through daily. These experiences made me into the person I am today, and I would not change anything about my journey.

As you reflect on your own life, there will be outcomes that disappoint. Instead of seeking the easy way out, change your preparation habits and expect to do great things, because it all starts with your heart.
Here are four sacrifices that will help catapult your journey:

  • Hard work. There is no substitute for hard work, and it will never be matched. This is the time to separate yourself from the pack. Many of your teammates are content with where they are in life, but you have to challenge yourself to push pass the status quo in every facet of life. Remember, the new NCAA initial eligibility standards are increasing, so take the time to improve your grades and take the SAT or ACT to see where you stand. You cannot go anywhere in life with your education.
  • Smart choices. Idle time provides more opportunities to make poor choices that could disappoint the individuals who made sacrifices for you. I encourage you to find some time to fill gaps after school so you can make wise choices. Always remember that it is easy to get into trouble but hard to get out of it.
  • Perfecting your craft. We all claim we want to be the best, but are you really taking time to do so? Connect with your position coach. Ask him to watch game film with you and discover what aspects of your game need to be improve. My defensive back coach would always say, “The eye in the sky does not lie.” Elevating this part of your game will take you to places you want to be and dream about daily.
  • Championship mentality. One of the most powerful things I had the privilege to experience was sharing the same goals with more than 100 young men to earn the right to play in a bowl game. We worked extremely hard and ended up losing six games within three points or less that season. We continued to fight and sacrifice for one another to accomplish our goal of playing in a bowl game.

Sacrifice is essential if you would like to capture success in your athletic and academic pursuits.
Work hard. Be great.

Ashton Henderson was a four year letterman at defensive back for Michigan State University as well as a honor student and co-author with former teammate Travis Key of “Beyond The Gridiron: How to successfully transition into collegiate