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A Speaking Engagement

Today was the athlete academic honors reception at our school. Essentially, it’s an occasion to honor student-athletes who are excelling in school and to encourage continuation of these habits. Amongst a couple other inspiring speakers, I was asked to say a few words from the student-athlete perspective…

April 14, 2010

Before I talk about academic excellence and pursuing success in the classroom, etc, I want to take a moment to explain to you my recruiting experience.

Well, when I was at the young impressionable age of 17 or 18 I was going through the whole ‘coaches calling, application applying, official visit taking’ phase. Most of the schools were ones that I had heard of, the names were familiar to me, and they were institutions that I could envision myself possibly attending.

Then one day…a coach from Pepperdine called. Pepperdine? I asked my dad, “First of all, where is Pepperdine? And WHY is their mascot the Waves??”

Luckily, I didn’t let my lack of knowledge or hasty judgment prevent me from learning more about the school. It’s known for academic excellence and strong Christian values? And one of the top athletic programs in the nation for universities without a football program?

Impressive.

But more impressive are the people. I wanted to be at a school where I could develop my skills as an athlete, be encouraged in my faith, and excel in the classroom. And in those desires, I have found that I am not alone.

I look around this room and it is filled with individuals who take pride in their schoolwork and their athletic prowess. We are honored to have the community we do to support us as we pursue these goals. It is important to recognize and respect that our administration and faculty put forth much effort to enhance the image and character of Pepperdine.

But so do we. We carry the name of Pepperdine on our chests, or shorts, or speedos, whatever, whenever we compete. We are known for taking care of our business, regardless of the environment. Our school’s reputation of academic excellence is built upon the hard work that you and I put forth on a regular basis. In my life, I have refused to be labeled the “dumb jock.” I have taken every care not to fall into the athlete stereotype. And so have you.

So take great pride in furthering the name of Pepperdine and your athletic program. But most importantly, take pride in furthering yourself. Because, ultimately, you are the one benefiting from your diligence in the classroom as it opens windows of opportunity throughout college and beyond. You are the one who decides what to do with all the sacrifice and scrupulous time management. You decided to educate yourself. Now go – amongst your teammates, in the community, or out in the workforce – and do something with it.

Because ultimately, academic excellence without subsequent action is knowledge and power laid to waste.

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