When My Life Changed In a Cafeteria

In Work On Your Game [The Book]
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As spring semester of my freshman year at Abington turned to summer, I kept making the twenty-minute drive to the Abington campus to train, almost always having the entire facility — basketball court and weight room — to myself.

My body responded well to the new regime. I fed my growing muscles with $5 worth of the Wendy’s Dollar Menu every day on the drive home from campus, usually some combination of bacon double cheeseburgers, dollar nuggets and fries.

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One morning I made my normal drive to campus and parked in the gym parking lot, as I always did. I hadn’t eaten before leaving the house that morning, so before going into the gym, I walked across campus to the cafeteria to grab a bite.

There were a bunch of adults, maybe fifteen or twenty of them, who looked like faculty members sitting in the cafeteria lobby talking amongst themselves when I walked through. I knew none of them. They were mostly Black folks, and Abington is a small campus. I figured they must have been there for some program or event that colleges have in the summer months. I passed them on my way in, and on my way out, a man from that group approached me.

“Hey man — what position do you play?”

As I said, I had no idea who this guy or any of these other adults were. I’d never seen him before. And we were in the cafeteria — not the gym — so why was he asking me about playing anything?

And I’m from Philly; in Philly, you don’t approach random people and start friendly conversations. What the hell did he want?

I replied defensively.

“How do you know I play?”

“I’m just asking.”

“I play guard.”

He was talking basketball, and had a calm demeanor, so I was willing to see where this was going.

The man went on to ask me about my major, and explain that he worked on the campus of another Penn State branch, this one in Altoona, PA. They didn’t offer my exact major (psychology at the time) at Altoona, but they had similar programs.

None of that academic talk mattered to me though, because, upon telling me he was from the Altoona campus, this mystery man had handed me his business card.

It had his name, of course, the Penn State nittany lion logo, his office and fax numbers, email addresses, etc.

Only one thing on that card had my attention though: the second of his two job titles.

The first title was his main job, something in the campus Admissions Department.

The other title: Head Basketball Coach.

Luck? Coincidence? I’ll fill in the gaps in this story, tell you what happened next and more, in my new book Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate In Sports, Business and Life, coming February 22. Proeorder it now, and get all these free bonuses  — like a video of me reading the first chapter — today.

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