Dear 18-year old Kyle,
Over the next couple months, you’ll be told about a million times just how fast the next four years will go.
That statement is true because I feel like I barely blinked and we’re here.
Cherish every day because some of the biggest lessons you’ll ever learn will happen over the next four years.
Lean On Your Support System
You’ve been surrounded with an incredible family and friends, along with great coaches and teammates. Lean on them when you’re struggling. Don’t try to take everything on yourself.
There will be times over the next four years when you get frustrated, emotional and angry, pick up the phone and call your brother. He’s been in your shoes. He’s walked this road. He knows you better than you know yourself.
Lean on your parents. They’ve taught you well. Look back on those values and lessons that they’ve instilled in you. Lean on them when times get tough.
The world we live in is ever-changing. Over the next four years, you’ll feel the need to SnapChat, Instagram and tweet everything under the sun. That’s how our generation works.
Don’t do it.
It’s important to have those outlets around to keep up with, but don’t let it control your life. Engage people, focus on the task at hand. The next instagram post, the next tweet, they can wait. Lock in to what you’re doing whether it be a conversation, watching film, studying for an exam, or practice, let all of those distractions go.
Instead of picking up your phone in the locker room and scrolling through social media, watching pointless memes or looking up stuff that really isn’t important in the grander scheme, talk to your teammates and build those relationships. See what’s going on in their lives. The guys in that locker room will be some of your best friends for the rest of your life. They will teach you things and give you a perspective that you’ve never seen before. Make sure you give them the time instead of worrying what to post on SnapChat.
It won’t be easy, but you’ll thank me later for it.
Control What You Can Control
It may sound cliché and something that Dad has told you for years, but it’s a lesson you’ll learn time and time again over the next four years. Control what you can control.
You’ll have four different offensive coordinators in four years. You’ll go through a coaching change. Control what you can control.
You’re the player. They are the coaches. Talk to them and understand what is being taught. You’re not always right. Learn and get better each day, things will work out.
If you work on getting one-percent better every time you step on the field, you’ll be a completely different player in your senior season.
Perspective and Patience
It’s a generic lesson, but when you least expect it. Life will toss you the biggest curveball you’ve ever faced.
A season-ending injury will hit you at the worst possible time – right as you feel like you’re hitting your stride and marching your team into the playoffs for a second straight year. You’ll be dealt the first injury of your entire life.
It’ll be an emotional time for you, your team and your family. But life will quickly give you perspective that football is just a game and it’s a privilege to strap on that helmet every Saturday and play the game you and your brothers have always played.
A football injury is just a football injury. There are people going through much worse across the world, and even in your own family. Learn from that. Be patient. Gain strength from those around you. You’ll need it as you march back for your senior season.
The last lesson I’ll share with you is appreciation. Appreciate those around you. Appreciate all the people you will meet during your time at Richmond.
This University will challenge you in ways you’ve never been challenged before. You’ll be forced to be more organized and you’ll be forced to become better with time management. In the end, you’ll look back and appreciate the fact that you’ve learned those lessons.
Appreciate the relationships you’ll develop on campus and in the community. Your teammates, coaches, professors, fellow students, support staff, fans and all of those people that you’ll meet over the next four years. Cherish those relationships because each person has a story to tell and each person will give you a different perspective that you’ve never had before.
This program, this sport and this University will take you places you’ve never imagined. You’ll be in the freezing cold in North Dakota in December, your first start will be against a Big Ten team, you’ll play your biggest game after Richmond and JMU will be featured on College GameDay, yes that College GameDay that you’ve watched every Saturday morning since you could remember.
Embrace the moment and appreciate every day because before you know it, it’ll all be over.