You Don’t Achieve Goals Overnight, but with Determination

KNOXVILLE, TN - JULY 31, 2016 - long snapper Elijah Medford #52 of the Tennessee Volunteers 2016 Fall headshot in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics .

Jesse Medford #52 of the University of Tennessee Volunteers 2016

Question: I need to get bigger, stronger and faster as soon as possible to be ready for the upcoming basketball season. I’m trying to make the varsity team as a freshman but know I need to make changes. How many days a week do I need to train?

Answer: It’s not an overnight process. It may take years and depends more on your desire and willingness to work. Perseverance is a vital tool in building a successful life, not just achieving athletic career at the collegiate level or making the high school varsity team. One of the best local examples of that is a 2014 graduate of Williams High School. He was the Special Teams Player of the Year, 3-A amid-State All-Conference offense and defense and All-Region as a senior after playing varsity for three years as the long snapper, linebacker and tackle positions. Although recruited by several D2 and D3 schools he wanted to pursue a degree in engineering which eliminated those schools So, Jesse Medford enrolled at the University of Tennessee as a student for the first time in his life, not a student-athlete. Rewind quickly though, while standing on the football field in UT’s Neyland stadium after the spring football game he and his dad attended, 7 year old Jesse said to his dad, ” one day I’m gonna play football here for Tennessee.” In the fall of 2014 he signed up as a walk on player but didn’t make the team. Undeterred, he utilized the training he had always known and what he had learned during his try-out and improved himself in the weight room. In the spring of 2015, he went to tryouts again as a walk on and made the team. However, at the end of spring ball, he was cut again. Back in the gym over the summer, he continued to train and tried out in the fall and made the team. He was red-shirted but he worked out and practiced with the team continuing to improve himself as a player and long-snapper. His father shared that after the 2016 Outback Bowl, Jesse approached his coach and asked when tryouts were going to be held for the following season. His coach looked puzzled and asked why he needed that information. Jesse replied so he could tryout for the team again. Coach then replied that the second string long snapper needs to get back to work in the weight room. During the two years of engineering academics, Jesse had moved up from not being on the team to the number four long snapper to the number two long snapper in the 2016 Spring Game. In case you don’t know, the long snapper hikes the ball 14.5 yards to the punter or 7 yards to the holder for field goals or points after. Now as this season unfolds for UT, Jesse was named a starter for the season opener against Appalachian State and continued as a starter in the game last weekend against Virginia Tech. His dream as a 7 year old had come true. His hard work, patience and perseverance had paid off. By the way, he has been on the dean’s list in engineering since making the football team in the fall of 2015. He says he tries to keep his head down and his heart high while giving the glory to God. If you have a dream and are willing to work, work hard despite setbacks, then you too can achieve your dreams.

God bless and keep training,