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500+ for 50 – day 42: kickoff – the intersection of passion & purpose

Today marks the beginning of a new college football season.  I don’t know about you, but I awoke with a spring in my step this morning in anticipation of tonight’s match-ups.  Eight months of waiting finally comes to a close this evening.  There’s nothing like witnessing the toe meet the leather for the first time of the season during the opening kickoff.  It’s truly a special moment for players, coaches, and fans alike.  Because it’s the signal that an inspired battle is about to take place for the next sixty minutes that will serve to potentially direct the course of an entire season for both teams.  Opening kickoff is a rebirth of sorts.  It’s an opportunity for players to connect passion with purpose and stake their claim on a new pathway to success.

The opening kick of every game has always been an emotional moment for me, both as a player and as a fan.  I can remember back to my high school days feeling the butterflies build in my stomach as we approached the gate to head into the stadium.  By the time that we flipped the coin and lined up our special teams units, I was absolutely electric.  I would feel charged with so much eager anticipation that I could hardly handle it.  I simply could not wait to get out there and deliver (or take) that first hit so that I could reset my mind and focus on the task at hand.  And the same has been true for every contest that I’ve attended as a fan cheering on my Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium on Saturdays.  There have been moments when I’ve been so torqued up prior to kickoff that I’ve felt as though I was going to pass out in the stands.  In fact, I’m getting choked up now just thinking about it.  What an amazing rush of adrenaline!?

I think what makes the opening kick so special is the fact that it is in that very moment that passion intersects with purpose and opportunities for greatness are revealed.  As a player, you spend the entire offseason dreaming about the achievements awaiting you in the fall.  You train with great intensity to develop a mind and body capable of excelling at peak levels of performance throughout the course of a four month season.  You study film, you study your playbook, and you immerse yourself full-time in football so that when the season arrives there is no need to think about your reactions in live game situations…your movements and decisions simply become second nature.  When you prepare to take the field for the opening kick, all you really are focused on is that fire burning deep within you.  You know your assignments, and you know the game plan.  Now is the time when you turn up the intensity and get ready to lay it on your opponent.

As the kicker strikes the ball and sends it high into the sky above the gridiron below, passion turns to purpose.  It’s time to get down to business.  In a matter of seconds your adrenaline will calm and a new mindset will prevail…one that is focused on execution.  This is what you’ve trained for, the moment that the rubber meets the road.  It’s time to take all of the hard work done in preparation for this day and put it to good use out on the field.  Now is the time to seize control of the battle and embrace each and every opportunity for success that presents itself.  This is your chance to blaze a new trail.  It’s a fresh start – you are undefeated, and only you will impose the limits on how far you can go in this new season.

I’ve found that when I’ve connected passion with purpose in my life, actions taken in the direction my goals and commitments tend to feel virtually effortless.  And that’s the way that it is on the football field as well.  When toe meets leather, your desire to control and overthink things goes out the window.  You just move and react, losing yourself in the game.  Your preparation directs your course and your passion allows you to excel in critical moments when you are given the opportunity to create separation from your opponent.  It’s amazing how systematically the battle unfolds when inspired effort connects with defined objectives.  Success is inevitable when you pursue goals that make you feel alive and connect with the core of your being.

If we all spent our lives matching passionate drive to identifiable purposes, I have a feeling that we’d be very pleased with the eventual course of the season of life ahead of us. 

May God Bless!

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