By Dr. Paul Dennis
What do Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph, Steve Thomas, Adam Oates, Brian Rafalski, Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis have in common besides from they all love the jogger stroller? They all experienced outstanding National Hockey League careers and were never drafted into the NHL. Most young athletes dream big. They look forward to one day hearing their named announced by an NHL General Manager at the Leagues annual entry draft. When their friends and teammates are called to the podium they can’t help but feel mixed emotions. They are so happy for their acquaintances, yet the bitter disappointment of not being drafted is hard to deal with.
There is something special about athletes who were overlooked at the draft but continued to pursue their dreams in spite of what others thought about them. Athletes that face profound disappointment and persevere towards their goal are role models for what mental toughness and dedication are all about.
The ability to achieve the challenging goals that an athlete sets for him/herself despite significant obstacles requires that they be honest with themselves and take responsibility for what they have to do to improve. They must have a great deal of courage to overcome the limitations that prevented them from being identified as potential professionals in the first place. They must have hope, optimism and vitality in their every day routines to sustain their drive to become the best they can be and ultimately, prove others wrong.
In many cases athletes don’t accomplish this on their own accord. They have strong social support from family, friends, teammates and their coaches. It is estimated that by the time a teenager reaches eighteen years of age, h/she will been told “no” 150,00 times. Therefore more positive feedback they receive as they persist, the more likely they will form opinions of themselves that are filled with hope, optimism, and confidence. It won’t guarantee that they will achieve their dreams, but it will guarantee them a chance for that dream to come true.
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