It all began on the fields in Canada. I have played the beautiful game since I was eight years old, first joining a house league team with Wednesday afternoons being game day. After two season playing house league I began climbing the ladder of youth soccer into rep teams, or as some would call, travel teams. As time went on, each of us grew taller, stronger, faster, hitting puberty and simply maturing into our teenage years. This is where the game became competitive. Championships, club reputation, roster spots, regional tournaments, all these factors would be on the line.
I would like to clarify, as a teenager and even to this day, I am not the best individual on the field. Never was. Once I did enter competitive soccer, my life began to revolve around the beautiful game. From then on it was tough love. Within a span of four to five years I would jump from club to club because I simply was not fast enough, strong enough, intelligent enough or simply good enough for the coach. I would receive plenty of criticism. At times balling my eyes out on the way home and promising myself that I am done playing for good. As I said before, tough love.
I can’t be grateful enough for my family for all the support they gave me regardless of performance, especially my father. He was one of the biggest critics, but at moments where I was on the brink of brokenness he would believe.
As passion drove me forward and years of working hard and determination, I landed myself at a professional soccer academy in Poland as I finished eleventh grade. To follow a dream, I left my family in Canada behind. At the time, I knew the Polish language quite well, but nearly not at the high school level. That first year was filled with pressure not only from professors who would simply treat me as any other student, but also from coaches at the European level. I remember specifically one coach that will forever stick in my memory when he asked me quite aggressively at half time during my first game on his team, “Do you guys even know how to play soccer in Canada!?” That statement fueled me throughout my soccer adventure in Poland.
I attended hours of tutoring for reading and writing in Polish on top of the extra hours to win myself a spot on the roster. I felt like I was on a mission to prove many people wrong that have crossed paths with me in my life, which till this day I am still thankful for whether positive or negative experiences bonded us. Fast forwarding to graduating high school in Poland and a time to move on from the academy, I had a decision to make. Follow a childhood dream and accept a third division contract in Poland beginning a professional adventure or accept a scholarship opportunity in America investing in myself, hopefully for future benefits.
I pondered this decision for quite some time with numerous phone calls to my parents and taking some alone time to meditate on what to do next. I decided to travel to the United States of America and accept the soccer scholarship to Nyack College in New York State. At the time, the plan was to play two years, receive an associate degree and return to Europe. It seemed quite straightforward at first of course.
Fast forward four years as I walked across the stage to obtain my diploma.
Fast forward four years to me as the soccer team’s captain. I was fortunate enough to be part of a team of great guys; winning a championship my freshman year. My soccer experience at Nyack was not only based on the beautiful game that had a profound impact on me. It was the overall experiences I was blessed to receive during my undergraduate career.
These experiences were not only the ups and downs in a collegiate athlete’s life, but also the deeper meaning of life itself; Why am I truly living? The revolving world around soccer began crumbling down. I was challenged in ways I have never been before, encouraged to talk freely about where I was in my spiritual journey or if I would like to start one at all. I began to question many things in my life, why I do certain things, the meaning behind them.
I decided to go back to my roots and analyze my journey so far. From a young age I believe that there is a God, a Creator of the world or as some would like to call it, a Higher Power. It is where I learned the rights and the wrongs, good and evil. Putting in the effort to be a good person all around, helping people in need and keeping my morals to some sort of standard was always something that was passed down to me in my early years. Up until I started further education did I begin questioning my ultimate foundation for what my beliefs were grounded upon. Why I was taught this and was it really true, was it brainwashing, controlling the masses, mind numbing etc.
Freshman year soccer was at an all-time high being in the starting eleven, conference championship and making history by being the first soccer team in Nyack College to make it to the NCAAs. Nothing could go wrong. As my exploration began with my faith I realized that I had a God in a childhood faith rather than an “adult” more expansive God. The author James Martin elaborates on this perfectly:
“Some people cling to ways of understanding faith learned in childhood that might not work for an adult. For example, you might cling to a childhood notion of a God who will never let anything bad happen. When tragedy strikes, since your youthful image of God is not reflected in reality, you may abandon the God of your youth. Or you may abandon God completely. An adult life requires and adult faith”.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a man with faults/sins of my own. I am not here by no means to convert you towards any type of religion or spirituality of any kind. I simply want to share with you my experience through this blog.
As sophomore year went by I had a hard time focusing on soccer all together. Trainings felt robotic, like going through the motions. Our games weren’t bad, but no success like the year before. I remember one training session in particular when we finished off with penalty kicks. After feeling an emptiness, a totally lack of desire for anything at all, I began to fill up with tears. I walked off the field, passed the locker room and straight to my dorm room. Wept heavily on the floor of my room with thoughts going through my head; why does soccer not mean as much to me anymore?! We were supposed have a winning season! What do you want from me!?
That year as I continued into my psychology course and began to get a better understanding of sport psychology, an idea came to mind. Why not become a sports psychologist!? Genius idea I thought. With more browsing the web, I felt highly turned off as I became aware that undergrad is only the first step of becoming a registered psychologist. I continued studying the topic on my own and realized what athletes truly go through in their lives to become the best. So I decided why not try and be a helping hand for my fellow friends in their pursuit of athletics. It was in one of my classes that the idea of starting my own private practice came about. I began thinking what I would call it. With all this inspirational stuff going around on the Web, I watched numerous videos and listened to talks or music, and came up with Driven to Inspire. I continued through the last two years giving my all and trying to experience as much as I could in soccer and outside of it. If you could believe it, the idea never left my mind. I always had brief reminders along the way.
The explanation and inspiration behind Driven to inspire as one big picture and idea will come another time. This is why I hope to continue and share with you my drive to inspire people and to allow my fellow brothers and sisters to use their full potential in life to become the best version of themselves in all areas of life. To be more specific, touch on the mind, the body and the spirit. I firmly believe that one has to have a strong mind, a strong body and a strong spirituality to become that version of yourself you were created to be on this earth.
I simply ask you, my fellow friends, to join me on this journey that I feel deep in my heart to connect with you and share what I have experienced in the past experiencing in the present and ideas for the future.