Better Together: 8 Years Later
Eight years is a long time to embark on a journey, but some trips are worth the time spent. The ironsharpening journey that James and I have been on for the last eight years has been one of those that has been worth the trip. From high school freshman to now college graduate, watching him grow not only as a basketball player but as a man has been a great joy to experience. He wanted to meet with me to reflect on and celebrate our journey together.
I asked him to put on paper, what these last 8 years of getting "Better Together" have meant for him. I was expecting a short couple of paragraphs, but what I got back from him was a lot more than I expected. Here's what he had to say:
Hello, my name is James Callegari and I have known Jason Robinson for the past eight years now. Jason is one of my best friends, coaches and mentors I have ever had. I remember growing up, Jason coming up and complimenting me at a local pick-up basketball game. Telling me that I have very awkward, yet unique skill set, when it came to basketball. He also noticed how hard I was working, trying to grab every rebound, sprinting back on defense, and doing the little things to be a great teammate. Jason saw that not only as a quality when it came to basketball, but also in life. He encouraged me to workout with him, and spend time hearing wise words of inspiration, and motivation. From there, I created this bond with him that would never break.
I remember growing up, we’d always play one-on-one basketball, but the catch was the first person to score to one-hundred wins, which was ridiculous! But what this built was, resiliency, ability to persevere, and to not back down from anything. The game wasn’t just about who was the better basketball player, but who had that grit, who could pick their head up when their back was against the wall. Which taught me a very important lesson, when anything in life got tough, you never just give in, you have to keep your head held high, and find a way to work your way out of the hole, you are currently in. This was just one of the endless pieces of motivation that Jason would give me.
Jason was always there for me, I remembered him going to my high school basketball games, being right up front in the stands, and one of my last games ever as a high school basketball player, was the first individual to congratulate me on what a great career I had. He’s an amazing friend, that very few people can find nowadays. Jason was always there for me during difficult times for me, I recall transferring to another college to continue to play collegiate basketball. At the time, I was very stressed out, felt alone and that everybody was against me. I almost quit the sport I loved, and wanted to go home to finish school entirely. Jason was the first person to call me, when he heard that I wasn’t doing so well. He told me to stick it out, and to never give in. He lifted my spirits, and not only did I finish my season, but I also would finish the rest of my basketball career at that school, and would eventually graduate, this past spring of 2018. Without Jason, I would have quit one of the dearest things I love in life, and to miss out on a quality education.
Growing up, I was never the most skilled, athletic or smartest player on the court. I can also recall when I would be cut from travel basketball teams, and having my heart sink. Jason would be there by my side, and as soon as he got the news, he’d call me, and we would take that frustration out and go workout, play basketball, and never wanted me to feel that feeling of disappointment again. This would soon turn into one of my biggest motivations, was Jason. I had several ex-teammates and friends, who were far better than me, but would quit, if times got hard. Whether if that was in basketball, or school, Jason was teaching me a lesson that would stick with me for the rest of my life. That was to always work hard, and don’t let outside distractions ruin your progress.
Besides helping me alone, Jason helps others, whenever it comes to basketball, or life. It seems like Jason can solve any problem that arises in life, and Jason has time to help out everybody, that seeks his opinion. Jason has always been a big supporter of my life, whether it was basketball, school, or anything related to life, Jason was always there. He’s one of my dearest friends, and I can hangout, watch some basketball, and simply talk about anything.
When it comes to coaching, Jason knows a variety of workouts, to work on any skill
set that an athlete is willing to work on. He helped me throughout my basketball career, more specifically, this past summer, I worked out with him the whole summer, developing my post game, a left hand and a jump-shot. Jason is in very great shape, and will work out with you, to motivate and to demonstrate how to properly complete a move. He will also play one-on-one, or any basketball shooting game, in which he will most likely win at, because he is just that good of a basketball player. As a mentor, he has taught me so much of what life has to offer. He currently is helping me out transitioning from being an athlete, and player of the game, to an individual who is willing to coach, and help out other athletes, and people. Jason is an outstanding individual, and I cannot say enough of how much of a great person he truly is. The world needs more people like Jason, and I am happy to call Jason a friend.
As I read this, I was deeply moved. I considered just keeping this to myself, but in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:2 " and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others" I felt led to share what he had to say. My hope is that this might inspire others to get into mentoring as James has been doing the last few years. Not only is he going into teaching as a full time profession, he is now training and mentoring athletes himself.
"Better Together" is all about getting into the trenches and helping others discover who they were created to be. There is something about walking side by side with someone who is striving to become all they were meant to be. It's something that I believe all of us are called to do in some way, shape or form. Who are you investing in? Who do you know that can benefit from the experiences you have had on your journey? Or maybe you are someone who is looking for someone to invest in you. Is there someone you know that is willing to invest in you and help you be all you were meant to be?
I wouldn't trade the last eight years I have spent with James for anything. I am looking forward to the years ahead as he goes out and endeavors to invest in the lives of the students he teaches and athletes he coaches. Eight years from now, he might get a letter from a student that he's influenced and be reminded why he does what he does.
Stay Forever Strong!