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There are millions of Americans who are looking for jobs; however, there are not enough opportunities available to them. The rate of unemployment for people who have recently graduated from college is 7.9% (Huffington post). This number shows just how tough it is for people in America to find a job, especially college graduates. One of the hardest careers for any college student to try and pursue is professional sport. In basketball, there are 340 division 1 schools in America. In each of those schools there are 15 players.
That is a total of 5100 division 1 basketball players who are trying to fill 64 draft spots in that years NBA draft. That is only a 1.3% chance of being one of those talented 64 players. Just as most of these athletes are fighting for a spot on an NBA team, Daniel Seddiqui fought for a job in each of the 50 states during his nationwide road trip. Seddiquis job-hunt across America brought him to racecar pit crewmember where he had to undergo an intensive one-week training program before he could perform his job in a real racing event.
The hard work and dedication that Seddiqui demonstrated closely relates to the effort and perseverance that it takes for an athlete to take the step from college to the professional level. Luis Rojas is one of the characters from Graciela Tiscareno-Sato’s book, Latinnovating, who exemplifies perseverance and endurance, two of the soft skills that Seddiqui talks about in his book 50 Jobs in 50 States. Two other books that exemplify the hard work and dedication that it takes to become great are Relentless, by Tim Grover, and Driven From Within, by Michael Jordan.
These two books provide inspiring examples of athletes who have exceeded all expectations. Along with these two books, Made Men and Electro Mech offer information on the most important skills that are necessary to elevate your game to the professional level. With these books and websites, an individual can understand the mental aspects of the game that are necessary to be a top tear player. NBA Player Workouts and Possible Training are two websites and programs that help players develop the skills that professional athletes possess. It takes exceptional mental and physical skills as well as perseverance and endurance to reach a level of excellence in one’s chosen career, including professional sports.
During Seddiquis stop in Indiana on his cross-country job hunt, he found himself changing tires as a pit crewmember for a racing team. In order for Seddiqui to perform his duty in a race he first had to go through an intense training program for a week that would test his mental and physical abilities. “Pit-crew team members not only have to be physically fit to handle the work, they have to be precise, consistent, and fast” (135). Compared to some of his other jobs on this trip, training to be and becoming a pit-crew team member was probably far more demanding physically and mentally. This job required Seddiqui to apply two of the soft skills that he talks about in his epilogue. The first is endurance. This pit crew team member job required Daniel to perform rigorous physical tasks. The tires that he was changing were 40 pounds each, and the drill that he had to hold up and be precise with weighed 20 pounds. He had to undergo the physical challenges that were required, and he conquered them because he possessed the soft skill of endurance. The second soft skill that Daniel exhibited was perseverance. He had to undergo intense training where his pit-crew coach, Lance, would yell at him and challenge him with physical tasks to prepare for the actual conditions of a race. “On my Knees. Pick up the drill. Hit my target- miss the lug. Try again – miss again. Getting frustrated… Grab the new tire. Shove it on; doesn’t go on. Push it harder. Tire clicks on…” (135). The frustration that Seddiqui felt was from not making the desired time that he wanted. Nevertheless, he was determined to get his time of 12.47 down to the average time of a pit-crew member: 5 seconds. Seddiqui talked about putting pressure on himself as an athlete to perform at the highest possible level. His competitive nature and drive to be the best is what makes him like all other athletes who are striving for greatness.
While reading about Seddiquis rigorous training program for a job that he was only temporarily performing, I was reminded of the challenges that I face as a basketball player striving to make it to the ultimate goal: the NBA. There is no quick fix or formula that guarantees a player will make it to the professional level. For most players who are not naturally gifted of being 7 feet tall, it takes hard work from an early age to develop the skills that are needed to be an elite athlete.
In my case, I started playing basketball in seventh grade. I was a horrible shooter but I was athletic enough and had a higher vertical jump than most people I played against, which allowed me to score a fair amount of points each game. I saw that I had a potential to be good at this game and knew that it would take more work than I could have ever imagined. The one area of my game that needed the most work was my shooting, so I began working with a world famous shooting coach, Jim Brogan. He was an odd man at first, very energetic and precise, which is exactly what a good shooter needs to be. I would go to his clinic every Sunday, rain or shine, and work on becoming a better shooter. However, I knew that only working out that one day a week would not be enough, so I started going to the local gym every day to work on my shot more. When my 8th grade season began, I was a whole new player. I was determined to take my team to the championship game of the biggest middle school tournament in all of San Diego. As the win total started piling up I saw my love for this game grow into an obsession. I knew that this is what I wanted to do as a career. My new dream was to play for the NBA. At the beginning of the tournament , I was averaging almost 20 points with 7 rebounds a game. It was at this point that I knew I had a small chance, but still a chance, to make it to the NBA.
As an aspiring professional athlete, I understand the physical and mental skills as well as the soft skills of endurance and perseverance that are needed to reach that elite level of play. When it comes to basketball, the physical skills that are needed to be that kind of athlete are exceptional ball handling, shooting, speed, vertical jump, lateral speed, strength, mobility, agility and physicality. According to one sports website, “The best players are typically extremely good athletes. Being athletic does not mean just being fast, strong, or the best jumper – these are the skills people associate with athleticism, but the word has a more refined meaning. The best basketball players are mobile, agile, and have excellent hand to eye coordination” (Electro-Mech.com). This passage shows just how physically demanding this sport is and how specialized the skills that are required for choice athletes.
The mental aspect of the game can be summed up in one attribute: the will to win. The drive that an athlete has from wanting to win is why we have the high level of competitiveness that we see in the NBA. There is no better basketball to watch than the NBA playoffs. Even when a player gets injured during a game in the playoffs, he swallows his pain and finds the best way for his team to win. In Tim Grover’s book, Relentless, he talks about an NBA player who “limped off the floor in pain” during a game (11). The next night he flew to Grover’s gym in Chicago to find a way to be on the floor the next game at the best possible level. They did not ice or tape up like a normal trainer would do; rather, they went on the floor and figured out how to “adapt around the limitation- here’s how you adjust your shot, push off this way, land that way, do this before the game, do that at halftime…” (12). They worked on what he was going to do to compete at the highest level that his injury would allow. Most players would just sit at home and ice, but this particular unnamed athlete got in the gym and worked out the way to play.
For me, shooting is the primary skill. It is what I am best at and what coaches recruit me for. However, shooting is not all that I do. I also rebound well for a guard and I keep my turnovers at a low number. My work ethic is unmatched by most junior college players. On an average day, I spend two hours shooting 250 to 400 shots, one and a half hours on lifting weights and improving my strength and two hours playing open gyms or pickup. Most people only do two of those activities, but I choose to do all of them so that I can get the best possible advantage on the competition. Like Seddiqui and Luis Rojas, I posses the soft skills of endurance and perseverance. I refuse to be just an average player because of my competitive nature that resembles the drive of Seddiquis. He refused to accept a decent time on the tire changing and kept working until he got to the 5-second time that was required for him to work in a race. This is what makes Seddiqui and me unique in our career paths.
The skills that I need to work on are speed, vertical jump, agility and ball handling. While doing research on the best training programs available, I came across Possible Training. This is a program out of North Carolina that trains some of the best athletes to advance to the next level. “I’m Possible camps are some of the most sought camps in the world, innovatively designed around the concept of making every player feel like they are training alone in the gym” (possibletraining.com). This organization is one of the most advanced and innovative training programs that appear to produce the best results. I believe that training with this organization could give me the extra boost I need to make it to the next level.
Two aspects that are underrated in today’s elite athletes are their nutrition and how they play as a team. A professional workout website shows that Kobe Bryant’s regimen is based solely on his nutrition. “A solid diet is key to building a stronger body. Not only should you be eating lots of calories to build muscle, you should be eating between 1 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight” (NBAplayerWorkouts.com). This is already part of something that I do. Nutrition has been key in my fight to gain an advantage on my opponents. The second skill that I have is teamwork. I believe that the best teams are the ones that play together and make the extra pass, rather than each player trying to score as many points as he can. An article about basketball states, “you need to be able to prove that you are not only good at the sport, but good at working as part of a team” (MadeMen.com). Basketball is the one sport that requires a group of individuals to play with so much togetherness and unity. The success of my high school team was due to how close we were as a team. I still consider each of those guys from that team part my of family. This is what sets me apart from my competitors. I am used to being a good teammate and understand the importance of team unity to winning.
Basketball’s iconic figure, Michael Jordan, is recognized as the best player of all time. Getting advice from his book, Driven From Within, is what any aspiring athlete can and should. Jordan argues that “today, players receive the rewards before they prove their worth” (105). This is his biggest problem with today’s NBA. He says “there were no expectations for me. Sure I was the third pick in the NBA draft, and I received a contract worth a lot of money at the time. But no one expected me to become the player I became” (109). He had to earn his title versus today’s elite players, like LeBron James, who were given multi-million deals their first year and expected to be the league’s next MVP. Listening to Jordan’s words makes me realize that I am an underdog like he was. Few people expect me to become a college player, I have to earn it and show everyone that I deserve to be out on that court with the rest of today’s best players.
While contemplating whom I should interview about being a professional player, I decided to talk to my shooting coach Jim Brogan. Jim played for the Los Angeles Clippers in the 80s. The first question I asked him was how long it takes to develop the skills to be a professional player. His response was, “to be great at something, it takes 10,000 hours of hard work.” Next, I asked him if he had any tips to make the best impression on coaches during a tryout and practice. Jim said, “always run everywhere. If a coach asks you to come circle up at the end of the court, run to him. Be the first one there and never make it look like you are tired for one second. Also, when you are doing conditioning, do not run to the line, run through the line.” With this interview, I was able to understand what it takes to be the best player I can and to impress coaches during a tryout and practice. The soft skills that Sediqqui talks about in his book, endurance and perseverance, are key in the 10,000 hours of training to become great at a particular skill, which was what Jim Brogan recommended.
Luis Rojas “exemplifies the characteristics of an entrepreneur who never let life’s disappointments limit his potential” (Tiscareno-Sato 57). Right away we see that Rojas has perseverance and endurance, the soft skills that Sediqqui shows in his book and I demonstrate in my pursuit of being a pro basketball player. Luis was born into a poor family who valued everything and saved every bit of resources they could. Despite not having a high GPA and not being an A student, “Luis plugged away at his accounting classes…Learned something every day and ultimately graduated” (59). Out of college, Luis was offered jobs from eight different companies. He wanted to become a music promoter; however, he accepted an accounting job at First Interstate Bank. After Luis father died when he was 25 years old, Luis knew he had to become an entrepreneur. Thanks to his perseverance and endurance throughout school and work, Luis started Evergreen Energy Solutions, LLC. His company provides solar energy to public agencies such as school districts, municipalities and utility agencies. This company is designed to help reduce the carbon footprint for his clients and convert their energy to solar energy. Without his hard work, perseverance, endurance and desire to achieve his goals, Luis would not have been able to start his own solar energy company and help his community, which was always his dream.
It takes someone who is dedicated to their field of work to have the kind of work ethic, perseverance and endurance requires to become great. Like Sediqqui and Rojas, I possess the soft skills of perseverance and endurance, as well as some of the other skills, such as an unmatched work ethic and an absolute love for what I do. Some people would give up when school gets hard, or a racing coach is riding you to go faster or the workouts break you down to the point where you feel you can’t go on, but people like Rojas, Seddiqui and I embrace the challenges and refuse to settle for anything less than excellence. Rojas, Seddiqui and I have conquered the unparalleled challenges that we have faced in our chosen fields. I am confident that these skills will enable me to advance to the college level of play and get me one step closer to my ultimate goal: the NBA.
This was by far the most intense essay that I have written all quarter. I put in two weeks worth of work with 10 hours in each of the weeks. Although it is not a testament to how good the paper is, I wrote nearly double the required amount and had more than the suggested amount of sources. The first step that I took was to figure out which job I wanted to write about. I decided to write about my dream job of playing in the NBA. While I know it is a dream and will probably never happen, it is still what I wanted to write about. The next step was for me to get my interview done and find all my sources. It was an easy choice for me to figure out whom to interview; however, the challenge was finding the appropriate sources to use when talking about the necessary skills. After I collected all the data, I was ready to start writing. I wrote three drafts when constructing this essay. The first was the rough draft, second was the completed copy and the third was the revised and edited copy. My greatest strengths in this essay are all my sources and how I was able to relate them back to the two required books. My weakness in this essay is knowing how to cite the internet sources with no author. I have no idea if I did it right or not, I just went with what I could find online and on the top 10 tips. With this being my last essay of this course, I am satisfied with my work and think it shows off my writing skills the best out of all the essays from this quarter.
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