Graduation life tips from the pro athletes to their younger selves? Don’t rush it, rookies
During graduation season, Ideastream Public Media sports commentator Terry Pluto is asking, “What would you tell your younger self?” He’s drawing inspiration from a series on the website The Players Tribune, in which pro athletes pen letters to their younger selves.
Don't be in such a hurry
Pluto says he’s collected a lot of stories of his own over the years, including advice that Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona gives his younger players.
"When they go down to the minors, he talks to them for quite a while, and he's stressing don't be in such a hurry to make the majors."
And Pluto said he got similar advice in his own life from Wilt Browning, the sports editor of the Greensboro Daily News when Pluto was a rookie writer in 1977.
"I desperately wanted to get to a big-time market. One night he was kind of exasperated with me. He said, 'Will you just stop being in such a hurry? You're in a good spot here. You're good enough to get there, but just enjoy it here,'" Pluto said.
And Pluto says this advice applies to all areas of life, not just sports.
"We want to get our whole life mapped out right away, and we don't get sometimes to draw every line on that map. In whatever profession, don't be in such a hurry," he said.
Have selective hearing
Pluto said he's also heard some good advice from coaches, including the late Hall of Famer, Chuck Daly.
Daly led the Detroit Pistons to two consecutive NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. During that era, the they were known as the "Bad Boys," because they were gritty, hard-nosed players who didn't back down from anyone.
"[Daly] said, 'When I was a younger coach, I wouldn't let anyone get by with anything. I'd take them out of the game and, [that player] would cuss at me and sit down and slam something. So what I've learned as I've gotten older is to have selective hard of hearing.' He said you don't have to answer everybody's frustration all the time, "Pluto said.
"Don't be afraid to write the letter to your younger self and give it to them, even if they don't look at it now. That young person may hang on to it and check it out later,."Terry Pluto
You're better than that
And Pluto said that similar approach helped him as a high school baseball player. His coach at Cleveland's Benedictine High School was Augie Bossu, a member of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
"Say I threw the ball to the wrong base or whatever. He would just go,' Terry, why'd you throw it there? You're better than that.' He might say it a couple of times. I was a marginal player, too. He knew my confidence was shaky, especially as a hitter. And I've talked to older coaches and the thing they really learned over time is name calling is not a good idea," Pluto said.
Just enjoy it
And Pluto said many former athletes have shared advice, including former Cleveland Cavalier, Brad Daugherty
"He came to the NBA at the age of 20 and was an All-Star center several times. Then in his late 20s, he starts having these major back problems. He says, looking back, 'I just wish I had enjoyed playing more.'
And, a big lesson Pluto says he's learned is to not be afraid to ask for help.
"A lot of players are, and then the coaches come to them, and right away they're defensive. I think that's what happens in our jobs and our relationships, and we make our life a lot worse by doing that," he said.
And Pluto says it's a good idea to pen a letter like this to a younger athlete or special person in your life.
"Don't be afraid to write the letter to your younger self and give it to them, even if they don't look at it now. That young person may hang on to it and check it out later," he said.
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