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Soaking up the final year at the U of M

When they tell you college goes by quickly, they're not wrong. This afternoon, I've just been sitting on the campus mall thinking about how much has changed in the past three years. Sometimes you just need a break and time away to think about things. After a long (and amazing) run of producing football content for the past month, this was a much-needed afternoon.

Today, I was reflecting upon all of the moments I've had here at the U. It's bringing me back to the days of being a wide-eyed freshman during Welcome Week. I had no idea what to expect. Would classes be too big? How would I be able to keep writing articles between homework? The first few weeks were a challenge, but I learned how to manage my time better than ever before. There were days where I didn't know what do next, but I learned how to tackle the obstacle by always asking for help. There is never a bad question and your instructors want you to succeed and grow. The relationships I've made with faculty are ones I'll have forever. I talked about these learning strategies in a past post.

Overall, there have been so many opportunities, challenges and experiences that have helped me grow in many ways at the University of Minnesota. Not only that, but so many people have given me advice and a helping hand along the way. Many professors have helped push me to be the best. You know who you are. In the sports industry, the list is really a mile long. People like Nadine Babu, Phil Mackey, Derek Wetmore, Judd Zulgad, Darren Wolfson, Paul Charchian, and so many members of the Vikings/Gophers organizations have given me a chance to gain experience through a variety of opportunities. There are so many names and it's impossible to list all of them. To get an education here and have the chance to grow outside the classroom is truly unique and I appreciate everyone who has helped me learn.

One thing I've learned during my educational journey: new and challenging beginnings bring out the best in people. You learn how to adapt, work together, be creative and more importantly - how to persevere through anything.

At first, I was just trying to adjust to the academic rigor and lifestyle in a big city. It was a bigger obstacle than I imagined. There's no way to explain it. Everything felt so big, the work felt daunting and it was slightly different than small-town Wisconsin. Now, I find myself just wanting to soak up the final moments and learn everything I can. I truly love academics and always have. There's nothing more rewarding to me than learning/applying a concept or sitting in a professor's office and picking their brain. I just can't describe the feeling I get when I've learned something new and applied it. It's an opportunity not everyone has and I don't take it for granted.

The days are numbered where I can enjoy what the U of M has to offer, including the campus and top-tier instruction. Watching the freshman walk around this week brings back so many memories. They don't know how lucky they are to have an opportunity to learn in the Big Ten, but they will soon enough. The main conclusion I made this afternoon -- when I'm done here, I know I've been pushed in different ways to become a well-rounded professional.

When I leave here, I can say I've given it everything I have every day. Through the first three years, I have learned that the education you receive is the product of what you put into it. If you just apply yourself 50% of the time, you can be satisfied and happy. However, if you pour everything you have into it, at a 100% level, the opportunities are endless. You can blaze any path you could imagine with the right mindset, curiosity, approach and energy. I take great pride in working hard and achieving my goals. Everyone has that choice, but for me, it's made the experience twice as rewarding.

More importantly, I have worked and collaborated with people who will be friends and connections for a lifetime. The list of people is a mile long. They have taught me how to execute different tasks in an efficient manner. I like sitting down with people and learning how they think about things. Through those experiences, I've had the chance to learn how not only myself, but others lead. It's an important skill to have when you are trying to achieve ultimate success.

After graduating in May, I'm excited to begin a new journey I have been working toward for a very long time. Although I have a few ideas, I don't know where the road will take me yet -- that's the best part. I love unknowns because they make you work even harder all the time.

I do know it's going to involve football, though. Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to attend college at the U of M and work in football. I spend my free time reading about coaches, media members and sports professionals who have reached their goals. I've been trying to learn from their past and start my own path.

I'm soaking up as much information as possible, meeting with others and trying to be the best version of myself every day. I read books, study film, meet new people and ask questions to develop a strong knowledge of an evolving game and sports industry. Not only that, but I spend time learning/watching how people lead, the strategies they use to connect others and how they motivate those around them. I believe those are necessary traits when trying to become the best professional. I have always been fascinated with different people's approaches.

I've been closely studying the varying styles of Mark Cuban, Robert Kraft, P.J. Fleck, Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Sean McVay, John Wooden, Jay Wright and Brad Stevens, among others. I find all of their leadership styles are very interesting and thought provoking.

As I journey into the final year here, I'm looking ahead to one last opportunity to enjoy all of the moments and memories. Once I leave the U, I know learning never ends. The skills I've learned will constantly evolve. That's the best part about life -- you need to be ready to adapt.

The future is on the horizon and it's certainly exciting. I know for certain this place will always be a special part of the journey. Once you've been here, you always have that "M" across your chest. It follows you everywhere and connects you with every person who has walked this campus. Buckle up folks, it's time for football season and one final year at the U! A big feature I've been working drops tomorrow on 1500ESPN. Keep your eyes peeled.

Thanks for reading and supporting the journey!


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