How many times could you endure hearing “no” before giving up on your dreams? How many times could you take having door after door slammed in your face before you told yourself it was time to quit? What would your number be before you simply took it as a sign to give up and go home? 1? 10? 50? 75? For me, that number was 94.
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a coach. I loved that side of the game – the organizing, the leading, the planning, the motivating, the inspiring, the opportunity to positively impact people. I was very fortunate in 2006 to begin my college coaching career, and very quickly fell in love with it. Although my career took some twists and turns over the next 10 years, the brakes were well and truly put on it in March 2016. The head coach at the program I was an assistant for retired and the new head coach decided to bring in their own assistant. So out I went. And little did I know but that would begin a 12-month period of being unemployed and a two-year search to get back into the profession I love so much.
Over the course of the next two years, I applied for 93 coaching positions. 93. That’s 93 times you sit and fill out an application, 93 times you reach out to your network to see if they know anyone at the institution you are applying to, 93 times you Google the city you are going to potentially move your family to, and 93 times you get your hopes up and pray to God that this is the one. And ultimately for me, it was 93 times of getting that phone call or that email to say that you were not successful in your application. And after every one of those rejections, it was 93 times of asking yourself if you have the energy to keep going, 93 times of telling your family that it didn’t work out, 93 times of going to the Lord in prayer and asking Him to sustain you as you get over the latest disappointment.
So what was it that kept me going? Why on earth didn’t I give up after rejection 20, or 43, or 57, or 88? It would have been perfectly understandable after that many to stop. No one would have judged me for that. There’s a couple of answers to that question:
- Perseverance. I believe perseverance is proof of passion, and I am passionate about coaching the game of soccer. It is one of the cornerstone skills I have demonstrated in my life, and I was determined to continue persevering as I worked towards living the kind of life I truly desired.
- Support. I cannot even begin to tell you the army of people I had supporting me. All at different times, all in different ways. But it was friends, colleagues, mentors, my ACIP family, many people from the Soccer Academy community. At no stage did I feel as though I was going through this alone, there was always someone with a timely phone call or email or text message which lifted me and gave me the strength to go one more time.
- Family. This one goes beyond support. My wife and my son carried me through the hardest of times when I was at my lowest. When I truly believed my dream was over, it was them who lifted me up. My extended family, whether they were in England, or Florida, or Wales, or Costa Rica, or the Isle of Man. They loved and supported me, Morgaine, and Charlie so that together we had the strength to keep going and keep persevering. No one can persevere alone, you have to be vulnerable and be willing to accept support from others.
- God. He has never forsaken me, never left me, never been silent. Throughout the process, He has sent belief and strength and encouragement. Many times I asked him to take the passion I had in my heart for soccer away so that I could move on, but He never did. If anything, my passion for the game and for coaching has grown. So I knew that His promise – His promise that he knows the future He has for me, that His plan is to prosper and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future – I knew they involved the game and my passions. Throughout this two years, I have grown closer to Him daily, and I know that was his ultimate goal in all of this.
But despite all of these things, every man has their limit. And for me, rejection #94 was going to be my last one. In January I applied to be the head men’s soccer coach at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA. And on the afternoon of Monday, March 6 I sat nervously at the agreed upon time for the Randolph athletic director to call me. It was a phone call I had waited for 93 previous times. As I sat there I said to God: “God, if this is a no then I am OK with that. But I will close the door on college coaching. If this is a no, I will commit wholeheartedly to pursuing another profession. If this is a no God, then I trust You and will say goodbye to coaching”.
The phone rang.
And I am delighted to announce that I am the new head coach of the Randolph College Men’s Soccer program!
Rejection #94 never came. Don’t quit on your dreams, God has a great plan for you if would only persevere through the tough times. We never know how long they are going to last, and the last thing my family and I ever imagined was that it would last two years and 93 rejections. But we stuck together, loved one another through it, trusted God through it, leaned on our support and our family, and kept going.