(Wake Forest Soccer Players & Coaches)

It was an awesome reunion this past weekend celebrating WFU’s Sports Hall-of-Fame inductees Marcus Tracy and Michael Parkhurst, former teammates and incredible men. (As well as the other inductees Michele Kasold, John Hendricks & Freddie Summers)

Each inductee had the opportunity to speak and share as they officially received their induction. They were all great! But Marcus Tracy’s speech left an indelible impression on me.

Here’s what I took away:

⚽️ “I never lose. I either win or learn.”

He opened his speech with this quote from the great Nelson Mandela. Then went on to talk about perspective, quoting Henry David Thearou – “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see!” It was like he was speaking directly to me. When I look at soccer in my life, I often see pain. I often see regret and failure. Marcus helped me understand that I was choosing the wrong perspective. I needed to reorient how I saw soccer. Soccer’s been such a blessing in my life, not a curse or failure. What do you need to change your perspective on?

❤️ From the heart.

What I appreciated most about Marcus’s speech was that he ‘spoke from his heart.’ He shared HIS story with us. He didn’t write a speech that he was instructed to write. He didn’t write a speech to appease others. As a matter of fact, he tried to. We spoke about the process. But he couldn’t seem to make it work. And when he decided to write what came to heart, it flowed! One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life, and continue to learn, is that I need to be who God created me to be. And nobody else!

😀😢 Through the good and bad.

People are always going to be there for you when you’re succeeding and doing well. When you’re winning. When you’re in positions of power, authority and privilege. Especially when you’re a pro athlete. But are we there when the lights go out? Are we there when careers end? Marriages fall apart? Death rears it’s ugly head? As a pro, this is something I recognize I should’ve focused on more as my teammates retired and left the game. Because at the end of the day, life’s about relationships. People are more important than any accomplishment or success! We need to be people that stick with others through the good and bad.

⚽️🏈⚾️🏒⛳️🎾🏀🏑🥊🏐The struggle is real.

The transition into life after sport is freakin’ hard! I’m still dealing with it. And it’s been almost 5 years since I retired. I have a feeling it’ll be something I wrestle with my whole life. If you’re an athlete dealing with this, know you’re not alone. Reach out. To me or another athlete. But let me encourage you in this… What made you successful as an athlete translates into the “real world” and will absolutely make you successful in whatever’s next. Don’t know what you want to do? Figure it out. Take a class. Find an internship. Go after it with the same tenacity, determination and drive that made you successful in your sport. Don’t believe the lie that your best has come and gone. Don’t stop dreaming. And don’t stop believing in your skills, your work ethic, and the plans that God has for you! The best is yet to come!

🏈 A true game-changer.

Freddie Summers was one of the inductees. Freddie wasn’t only a phenomenal quarterback at Wake, he was also a culture-changing force in civil rights. He was the first black quarterback at a major program in the South to start a game. And the first black quarterback in the ACC. Freddie helped pave the way for integration in the South. I can’t imagine what this was like for Freddie. But, no doubt, he was a man of great courage! I’m thankful for Freddie and for all the courageous men and woman who have and continue to fight for justice and equality. Praise God for the progress we’ve made, but we still have a ways to go.

👨‍🎓 All of life is a lesson.

I believe one of the keys to a fruitful and productive life is to remain a lifelong learner. I think we often miss opportunities to learn and grow for many reasons: we’re distracted, we’re focused on ourselves, we’re tired, we’re judgmental, we’re prideful, etc. But if we choose and work hard to remain open, humble, and present, we’ll learn so much more, have richer relationships and more fully enjoy this crazy thing called life. What I thought was just going to be a fun time celebrating my teammates and seeing old friends, ended up helping me see better. I’m thankful for the clarity and renewed vision!

Be bold. Be brave. Keep the faith!


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