As little kids we are told to dream big, but sometimes if our dreams are a little too big we’re told to be more realistic with our aspirations and goals. This is especially true for athletes.
The estimated percentage of college athletes varies by sport, but the fact remains the same for all athletes: only a select few will turn professional. Even though a limited number of spots exist on each team within each sport, it doesn’t stop young athletes from dreaming of the day they put on a professional jersey for the first time.
And with the odds stacked against them, they know it means they have to work that much harder to obtain one of the coveted spots on a team. So, it’s important for authority figures in a young athlete’s life to be supportive of their goals.
Julian Edelman, a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, was one of those kids who dreamed of playing professional ball. In 2006 when he was a freshman at the College of San Mateo he spoke about “going to the league” in his English class. At the time his professor warned him to be realistic of his goals because not many people made it to the NFL.
Like many college football players, it was Edelman’s dream to play in the NFL.
His professor, Katherine “Teeka” James, thought she was offering him some advice by suggesting he set a goal he could accomplish. Luckily, Edelman didn’t appear to pay much attention to the professor’s words of wisdom.
Fast forward 11 years and Edelman now plays for the New England Patriots, has won two Super Bowls with the team, and recently signed a two-year contract with the team worth $11 million.
Recently Edelman received a letter from his former professor and he shared it on Twitter.
Despite all the years that had passed since James’s comment and all of Edelman’s accomplishments between college and the NFL, James still couldn’t shake her feelings about what she said to her former student.
In the letter from his former professor, she apologized for the “flippant” comment she made to Edelman during her class.
“I don’t think it fazed you, frankly, but whenever I think back on it, I feel terrible, not because you proved me wrong,” she wrote. “But because I stupidly voiced an uneducated opinion that implied I had disdain for your passion for the game.”
According to the Boston Herald, James was just trying to make sure Edelman had a back-up plan in case his plans to play in the NFL failed.
“I said something about the odds of going pro in general and about the importance of not putting all one’s eggs in one basket,” James told the Boston Herald. “I don’t think Jules felt shut down or discouraged by me in the slightest.”
Back in 2006 Edelman seemed far from discouraged and even now after receiving the letter from his former professor it doesn’t appear to have brought back any negative feelings. In fact, it would appear that Edelman used the words as motivation.