“For physical training is of some value…” 1 Timothy 4:8
He leaned forward and slid the piece of paper toward me with two hands and then leaned back in his chair again, folding his arms across his chest. Finally he broke the awkward silence by dropping a bomb.
“Tim…we’re going to have to let you go.”
Just like that, in a moment, it was over. Years of bobbling around the backyard in JC Penney catalog football uniforms, years of cutting out Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine pictures, years of getting up before the sun to lift, run, throw, and watch film, years of playing the game I love. In a moment it all came to a close.
We don’t like to talk about it, but that same moment is coming for every single athlete who sets foot on a track, mat, court, rink, or field. Sooner or later, it’s going to end. Every athlete who has entered the arena of competition, at any level, will spend the majority of their lives being something other than an athlete.
The NCAA estimates that in six of the most sought after collegiate sports there are over 3 million high school competitors. Across those six sports, just 6.25%, or a little over 187,000 student-athletes will continue their career beyond high school. And of these 187,000 fortunate enough to compete at the college level, only 3.42%, or just fewer than 5,000 athletes, will compete professionally.
With the options available in youth, scholastic, and travel athletics today, competing is often taken for granted as a right rather than a privilege, but being an athlete is far from something one is entitled to. The opportunity to be an athlete is a wonderful gift that is fleeting, short-lived, and if done well, an incredible chance to prepare for success in life.
At Next Level Performance our coaches and support staff are equipped and committed to help every athlete with aspirations of being a part of the 6.25% or the 3.42% achieve their dreams. Our talented team has competed at the highest levels and we know the path to success. But as we relentlessly help all our student-athletes pursue their goals, we do so with a higher ambition surrounding all we do.
Building the complete person.
While every single student-athlete has unique gifts, talents, skills, and personalities, all have three things in common. Each was created with a body, a mind, and a spirit, which we like to call “the heart.” These three elements of a human being – physical, mental, and heart – shape all that we are and all that we do in our lives.
Every time an athlete enters training or competition, the task at hand has them captured physically as they exert themselves toward the prize of running, kicking, throwing, catching, swinging, or jumping. The task at hand also has them captured mentally as they focus their minds on learning a new skill, reacting to an opponent, or adjusting to a change in conditions.
But body and mind are only two-thirds of the equation. What about the heart? What about the whole person? How do we impact the trajectory of a life, not just the temporary success of an athletic career?
Herein lies the opportunity being seized by Next Level.
While we have an athlete’s captive attention mentally and physically, we are adding the third and most crucial part of each athlete into their training and preparation. We are capturing their heart. How?
We believe finding purpose and building leadership starts with looking in, and then proceeds and grows by looking out. Every performance training session, sport-specific training session, travel team practice, and Beyond The Game conference includes a journey through the Next Level Leadership model. The model consists of three phases, which are integrated into all our services for student-athletes:
This first vital phase invites the student-athlete to discover who they truly are, what unique gifts and talents they possess, and what passions they have where they can apply their gifts and talents to make a difference.
The second phase is about setting direction. Based on who I am and what I love to do, what are my goals? How can I use my skills to serve others? Where do I want to go and how can I start moving in the right direction to get there?
The final phase is about influencing and leading others. All leadership begins with self-leadership, but the leaders who make a lasting difference impact the lives of others. How do I communicate effectively to earn followers? How do I live in a contagious way? How do I bring others along with me and lead in my team, my school, my family, my community, and beyond?
Physical training is of some value indeed (1 Timothy 4:8), but it’s only part of the equation. Every athlete has a purpose beyond the game and by using the platform of athletics to unlock and discover this purpose, we are building Next Level Leaders that are complete people—equipped to succeed on the field now, and off it for years to come!