Day 56: Back in the Game

Morgan Fuller 2017

Sports have always fueled me. For 18 years of my life, I saw the world through a basketball-oriented lens. Every goal, every dream, every thought about the future revolved around that one passion. That’s what it was … a passion. Anybody who plays a sport for the pure love of the game knows there is no feeling quite like it. For that reason, I chased a dream for so long that, in the back of my mind, I always knew would ultimately lead nowhere. But I did so because being an athlete was so unbelievably fulfilling for me, and because I thought it was the only way to get the most out of sports. I am naturally competitive, challenge excites me, I thrive on proving people wrong and beating any odds that are against me, I am a team player, and I look up to those who are willing to motivate and inspire me. If those characteristics don’t scream athlete … I don’t know what does. But that’s why giving up that athlete status was so hard for me, why it rocked my world, because sports were my world.

Sure, I soon figured out that I could still incorporate sports into my life. I played intramurals, I went to sporting events, I embraced the fan culture, and I even decided I would focus on a career in the sports industry, like so many other ex-athletes do. That was all fine and dandy and I learned a lot about myself throughout the process, but truthfully, as much as I tried to hide it, I always felt like something was still missing. There was a void that, through all of that, just wasn’t filled. None of it truly compared to that feeling of being an athlete. That is until MSBA came around …

You can take the athlete out of the sport, but you can’t take the sport out of the athlete. In my mind, that’s what we all are here at MSBA: athletes. Maybe not in the traditional sense; we don’t wake up every morning and suit up for a game, mentally prepare for practice, or get ready to train harder than yesterday, but in a roundabout way, being an MSBA selected participant serves the same purpose. With its elite status, MSBA was appealing to me from the second I read about it in that ever-so-impressive Forbes article. Right then and there, I decided I had to fight for a spot. Once again, as a natural competitor, the chance to make it onto the exclusive MSBA “team” lit a fire in me. That fire has been burning brighter and brighter ever since.

“I have a lifetime of opportunities ahead of me because of this crazy, rollercoaster ride of an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

Let’s take a step back. The problem with giving up basketball was that I built my life around it. Participating in a competitive sport for so long provided me with more than I can even explain. It gave me a purpose, it gave me a competitive outlet, it gave me incredible experiences, and it allowed me to meet new people and form relationships with some who I still consider my best friends and mentors to this day. Basketball was fun and it was exciting and it got me out of bed in the morning. But competitive basketball, for me or for any other athlete, cannot last a lifetime. When that all inevitably ended, I didn’t think I would ever be able to get as much out of one single experience again. I didn’t think I would ever have that feeling of being an athlete again. But boy-oh-boy has MSBA proven me SO wrong.

Coming into this program I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I read the blog posts from years past and did my own in-depth research, but everything sounded almost too good to be true. How can eight weeks really be that jam-packed and life-changing? Let me tell you … it can. MSBA did in eight weeks what 18 years of basketball did for me.

So thank you David for creating the program that has given me back my purpose. Thank you for introducing me to a new meaning of the word competitive, only this time in terms of personal and professional growth. Thank you Lorne, Bailey, and all of my Mentors for becoming my new coaches, and thank you to DREAM for inspiring, challenging and motivating me. Thank you to all of MSBA’s Key Contributors for giving me back those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and most importantly, thank you to my 24 counterparts for being the best possible version of teammates I possibly could have hoped for. Not only are we athletes now, but I cannot wait to sit back and watch you all become champions. And although we surely won’t all end up on the same “team” in the future, I want you all to know that no matter what, I will be celebrating your successes with you, here to help you through your failures, and always ready for an #MSBA17 reunion.

So what, then, is the difference between MSBA and basketball? Basketball ended, but MSBA never really will. If this summer hypothetically ever did have to end (just let me pretend like that never actually has to happen), I take comfort in knowing that this is only just the beginning. I may be parting ways (for now) with this big beautiful city, with my internship, and with some of my best friends, but I have just entered into an MSBA Community that isn’t going anywhere. I have now experienced first-hand what this program can do in eight weeks; on top of that, our Commencement Celebration, filled with MSBA’s constantly growing list of Mentors, Speakers, Internship Providers, Alumni, friends and family, has proved to me how powerful this community truly is. I have a lifetime of opportunities ahead of me because of this crazy, rollercoaster ride of an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. So thank you MSBA, for making every ounce of regret, worry, and pain I once felt about “failing” as an athlete totally and completely worth it. Everything really does happen for a reason.