Leaned up against his car, Brian Kent, waited outside of my home on a winter morning in Chicago with a proof of his book “Walked On” tucked under his arm. I’ve known Kent for a while – we trained together, we worked together, and I consider him a friend.
On the pages of the book he hands me are the formative years of his life as an athlete spelled out in the details of opportunities and setbacks, which seem to occur in alternating order. I’ve heard some of the stories – I knew he met his wife in Nebraska, I knew he inevitably signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox (a team I vowed to care about at least a little when I married my husband) – but together, all at once it spells out a different kind of story of the college athlete. The story of the athletes without advocates trying to navigate an insanely complicated and ever-changing system.
On this week’s episode of #WeGotGoals, Kent and I discuss why he wrote the book, what it took to finally put fingers to keyboard and the goal of writing it all down in the first place.
And to hear Kent tell it, it’s not a cautionary tale, really. It’s a story of learning to find an internal motivation to keep going for the love of being good at something and pushing yourself to perform. He wants that message to make its way to young athletes everywhere – being good for the sake of that alone, not praise – especially those who want to stick with a sport into college.
It’s also a story of being at the right place at the right time a few times over – born to a great coach, promised a scholarship at a Big10 University (you’ll have to read the book to see how that turns out), working at a gym at the exact time a Chicago White Sox talent scout works out. It takes hard work and luck.
But it’s also another reason to protect young and impressionable athletes trying desperately to make it in the college athletics business. For every very resilient athlete like Kent, there’s another who develops mental health concerns, injuries, have their playing time cut without explanation, or start to question why they’re spending a full-time job’s worth of time on something. In a report by Harvard Athletics, varsity sports reported on attrition from sports in general, noting that one in four varsity athletes leave their sports by senior year, while many other Division I schools report attrition around 30 percent.
You’ll hear Kent and I talk about this and more on this week’s episode.
- Get the Book “Walked On: Life Lessons From A Two-Sport Non-Scholarship College Athlete“
- Follow Brian Kent on Instagram
- Find Brian everywhere he trains
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