Earn the name on your jersey

When I took my first steps on to campus at Michigan State I was just another walk on for Michigan State basketball.  Their was an expectation that all walk ons competed for playing time at the end of the games and would never play meaningful minutes.  To give you an idea of the first reaction of our basketball staff, my first day I went over to the weight room looking for a couple of my teammates so we could go to take team pictures.  When I walked into the strength and conditioning office I asked our head strength and conditioning coach if he had seen my two teammates and his reply was “no, who are you?  one of the new managers?”  I introduced myself as a new walk on and it was at that moment I knew I was on an up hill climb. 

When I made it over to the Breslin Center to pick up my jersey for our picture I went to the equipment room and asked for my uniform and the equipment manager said “Who are you?”  I explained I was a new walk on and he kind of shrugged and handed me a jersey with no name on the back and a pair a shoes that were a size to small.  I took a look at that jersey and I asked my friend Charlie Bell (twitter.com/flintstone14 )why I had no name on the back of my uniform and he said “you got to earn that as a walk on.”  So that’s what I set out to do. 

Side Note: (I wore those shoes that were to small the entire season and never complained because I didn’t want to cause trouble or complain.  I just took that as motivation to prove that I was worthy of being there.  But my feet hurt everyday.)

I got a chance to spend last night in Grand Rapids at Job Search 2010.  This was an event that was a collaborative effort between the career service offices at Michigan State, Michigan, Aquinas and Grand Valley State.  Over 400 people showed up to hear presentation about the power fo using linkedin, different ways to brand yourself and what the current and future outlook is of our job market.  It was a great event with 3 phenomenal speakers but that wasn’t the man thing I took away from the night.  The people in that room were there to learn something new and continue to persevere through life.  These are people are looking to step in a new situation and earn the name on their jersey.

Every year before the season start we got a new group of great players that would come to Michigan State and every year it was predicted that my minutes would decrease to almost nothing.  I would in a sense lose my job just like every person who came out last night to Job Search 2010.  But I took great pride in the fact that I had earned my name on the back of my jersey and I would never back down from the challenge of reminding my coaches, teammates and fans that I belonged on that court.

So no matter what happens in your life, go out and earn the name on your jersey! 

Thanks to John Hill twitter.com/MSUAAJohn for a great event last night!

If I can ever help any of you please do not hesitate to ask.


twitter.com/timbograkos         twitter.com/MichiganStateAA


3 responses to “Earn the name on your jersey

  • Dave Brown

    Tim – Nice story. Clever allegory! My shoes have been too small as well at times in my career. One is never too experienced to stop learning and adapting to any situation. -DSB

  • Keith Stephens

    Great blog. The funniest thing is, even being there throughout your career and watching you fight and earn all that you received, I never knew the story about the shoes being to small. That just goes to show a true winner makes what many would perceive an obstacle a non factor.

  • John Girdwood

    Hey Tim – awesome blog, man! Keep it up, dude, and we’ll be checking back often. If you’re interested, add my website(s) to your blog roll. I listed my personal site above and then I’m also trying to start-up http://StudySports.net

    From Flint & EL – Go Green!

    John Girdwood
    PhD Student of Sociology @MSU

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