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BIG MAN ON CAMPUS…

Good Enough Mother has decided she wants to go back to college. Not to learn or earn another degree. I just want to go back as an athlete – with a scholarship!

See earlier in the week, I escorted my very tall nephew to Duke University where he is a top prospect for their football team. I know, I know, when you think of Duke you think of basketball, but they have a football program too and one they are very serious about rebuilding. The coaches want Josh to be a part of that.

So off we went, leaving a ridiculously crowded JetBlue terminal at 8:30 bound for Raleigh Durham (RDU airport was a welcome change; it made JFK look like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during a bear rally).

Our instructions were to meet at the football building as soon as we got to campus, which we did… after Josh’s auntie took a thousand pictures of him in the parking lot. Over the course of the day, Josh and I were carted all over the breathtakingly beautiful campus. At one point, we drove by admissions where about two dozen young people were waiting in the sweltering heat. “What’s going on over there?” I asked, as we zipped by, our padded bottoms cozy on the golf cart’s pristine leather seats. “Oh those are the students taking the tour.” Ohhhhhh.. The students who are going to pay through the nose to go to school there. That was my first real indication that Josh was going to be special to them.


Good Enough Mother has decided she wants to go back to college.  Not to learn or earn another degree. I just want to go back as an athlete – with a scholarship!

See earlier in the week, I escorted my very tall nephew to Duke University where he is a top prospect for their football team. I know, I know, when you think of Duke you think of basketball, but they have a football program too and one they are very serious about rebuilding. The coaches want Josh to be a part of that.

So off we went, leaving a ridiculously crowded JetBlue terminal at 8:30 bound for Raleigh Durham (RDU airport was a welcome change; it made JFK look like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during a bear rally).

Our instructions were to meet at the football building as soon as we got to campus, which we did… after Josh’s auntie took a thousand pictures of him in the parking lot.  Over the course of the day, Josh and I were carted all over the breathtakingly beautiful campus. At one point, we drove by admissions where about two dozen young people were waiting in the sweltering heat. “What’s going on over there?” I asked, as we zipped by, our padded bottoms cozy on the golf cart’s pristine leather seats.  “Oh those are the students taking the tour.” Ohhhhhh.. The students who are going to pay through the nose to go to school there. That was my first real indication that Josh was going to be special to them.

We saw every square inch of that campus and listened to every possible reason as to why Duke was the best fit for Josh and I have to say by the end of the tour, I was inclined to agree. Later that night over dinner, we had a long talk, with lessons absorbed a bit easier coming from aunt than mother.

I compared my collegiate experience to what his was destined to be. How I struggled to make ends meet working as a waitress at TGI Fridays and sweated every month as I wondered if I would make enough money in tips to pay the rent (food was more of a luxury). While I was a number on a huge state school campus, Josh was going to be special, a star possibly, the proverbial big fish in a small pond. A big fish with a lot of support.

But I also underscored that he had a job to do. I explained to him that while these people were going to give him a scholarship, support and a class A education, they would also be taking out their pound of flesh and it would come on the football field. In other words, that would be his job and as special as he is to us and will be to them, he could not afford to screw it up.

I am trying to prevent the bigheaded sense of entitlement that I see so often with young kids and student-athletes on scholarships. But I worry that might not be easy when everyone is telling you that you are “all that”. I want him to be serious about getting a good education because though he’s a great high school player and has the potential to do well in college, it’s probably pretty unlikely he’ll play in the NFL.  Because of that he will need an education, not just a degree.  I think he got that.

We flew home the next day, still exhausted but excited about the possibilities.  Now the magnitude of the decision has started to weigh on his slender, 17-year-old shoulders. Duke wants a commitment but so do at least half a dozen other schools. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid. But he’s a smart one; I know he’ll make  the choice that’s right for him. In the meantime, GO BLUE DEVILS!

Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you keep your kid from developing a sense of entitlement? And were your college experiences as similarly poverty stricken as mine?

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