I first met Frank when preparing for a Belmont Athletics missions trip to Alaska. Other than standing at six-foot-eight, his outgoing and friendly personality is one of the first things one will notice when meeting him for the first time.
Frank is a third-year student at Belmont and has been a contributor to the Men’s Basketball team’s success.
All the way from Cary, IL, here is Frank’s story.
A goal-oriented individual, Frank had his sights set on playing in college from an early age. With two sisters who played in college, it was encouraged within their family.
Growing up, he went to his sisters’ collegiate games and his family was fortunate enough to provide him with experiences at camps and clinics as they travelled near and far and spent a lot of time and money into growing his game.
I never really felt pressured to play college basketball. I put that pressure on myself. I don’t think other people put that pressure on me.
With his forward focus and goal of playing in college, Frank became known for his basketball talents. This limited the depth of his relationships because people either knew him 1) from basketball or 2) because of basketball and he felt as if it became difficult to break down the wall and share his true self with others.
Moving into college, he didn’t know what to expect. Lucky enough for him, his two sisters (who played in college) prepared him for what the balance of school, sport, and social life would look like.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. COVID drastically impacted the student-athlete experience. The basketball team quarantined many times & while sometimes Frank was lucky enough to be quarantined with someone, there were times where he was alone. This led to a lot of self-evaluation and goal-setting.
That was a lot of time for me to sit down and actually think about things for the first time. I was like “I know I want to do this” but I never really thought about why I wanted to do this, or what I want to get out of it.
This time of self-reflection and re-evaluation brought Frank back to his high school self; the goal-oriented, determined young man with his sights on playing in college.
Putting in Work
The typical college athlete stands out in high school, and receives a bit of a reality check when they arrive to campus. The competition is bigger, faster, taller, and stronger than before. For Frank, this meant putting in more work to achieve the goals he had set for himself.
You feel more human. It’s not as easy for me anymore, you have to start working on getting better.
This time of transition let to putting a lot of work into his craft, but he had to realize that while basketball has been the center of his world for a long time, he needs to find out who he is outside of his sport.
I started focusing more on non-basketball things because this isn’t the center of my world. I became a lot more focused on relationships and doing other things that bring me joy.
One of these passions is farming. Frank enjoys going home and planting a garden with his dad. Together, they make salsas, spicy pickles, and more. Farming and spending time with his dad have been a breath of fresh air and a good step back from the pressures of constant performance.
Since finding and exploring his farming passions, he has put a lot of thought towards finding his “why”.
The reason I am doing this is to get my degree, but then I’m like “I don’t want to do anything with what I am studying, so WHY am I doing it?”
Having spent so much time finding who he is without basketball and what he enjoys when he is not on the court, when introducing himself in class at the beginning of the semester, he tries to find other hobbies to introduce himself with other than basketball.
I’ve had a chance to step back and widen my view on what is important to me and who I am.
While Frank is still exploring who he is outside of basketball, he is enjoying the college journey and all that basketball has brought to him. The friends, experiences, competition, are all irreplaceable memories that he will hold with him for a lifetime.
This season, Frank faced an injury and had to face the sidelines for the beginning of the season.
I was pretty upset that I couldn’t play because those kinds of games are fun with season openers and stuff. But then, part of me is like it’s nice to not have that pressure and you have to perform. Tight situations are fun to be in, but it was nice to not feel the pressure.
Frank is spot on and we have heard the same message from just about every athlete out there. The adrenaline, the “high” of being in a packed gym, tight game, playing a rival, whatever it might be… is irreplaceable. However, not having the pressure attached to the situation can be relieving.
In the midst of his rehab, he quickly recognized that he is still putting in a lot of work, just different than what the team is doing.
With great friends on the team and a solid support system, Frank is happy for the guys to start the season and is looking forward to his return to the court.
He now realizes through his personal growth, that the sports we play are games. Yup, you heard it right. It’s a game.
It is time that we play them as such- and enjoy the journey.
Live a life of conviction of what you believe in and what you find true to yourself. Through that, keep a strong perspective on what is important and why you are doing what you’re doing.
Don’t let the pressures you feel in sports, school, or life change you.