Successful people are risk takers. When faced with a challenge they seize it. Successful soccer players are risk takers. When faced with a challenge they seize it.
Taking a risk can come in many forms and at any moment. Anything from a player stepping up to address a team problem that has been overlooked to a player signing for a team to pursue a new challenge. In my soccer career, I have encountered risk takers. One player stands out most. Alex Shinsky.
Alex Shinsky is fearless. My University of Maryland teammate has been through just about every soccer experience imaginable for a player his age. In 2009, he was on top of the United States youth soccer world. He was a member of the U17 United States National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, FL. His national team stint culminated with a trip to the 2009 U17 World Cup in Nigeria. Not only did he play in all of the team’s games but he scored a memorable goal against Malawi. Although, his robot celebration needed a little work.
One of his most memorable years was quickly followed by one of his worst. He suffered one of the worst sports injuries. Not once, not twice but three times.
Shinsky tore his meniscus in his left knee. Following six months of rehabilitation, he re-injured the same meniscus. Later that year, he tore the meniscus in his right knee. This was the most injury unfortunate year of any player I have ever known.
A player faced with an insurmountable challenge. He could begin rehabilitation and risk never being the same player again or worse further injuring himself. He also could choose to end his career. Many players would’ve given up. But Shinsky is a risk taker. No challenge is too great for him. He showed his fearless colors and chose the long road of recovery.
Shinsky enrolled at the University of Maryland a semester early to receive the best rehabilitation. He endured long days in the athletic training room. Days filled with monotonous but necessary recovery and strength training. This training relies on a player’s motivation. Shinsky was motivated.
This was a time of uncertainty in his career. Now four years after his injuries, Shinsky is still motivated. But not on recovering, on emerging as an integral player on our team. He is stronger than ever. He is fitter than ever. He is sharper than ever. Shinsky took a risk and never looked back and is now wreaking the benefits.
Like Shinsky, we all face challenges in our soccer careers. We all encounter opportunities to propel our game to a higher level. The difference between Shinsky and most players is that he isn’t afraid to take a risk. He has the fearlessness and self-belief to take on any challenge. Not only take on a challenge but know he will succeed.
We can’t control the challenges that come our way. But we can control how we respond to those challenges. Our responses must be decisive. So be bold in these moments. Be fearless. But most importantly embrace taking a risk.