Five Resilience Stories that Could Keep Your Students from Giving Up

Today, we hear from Andrew McPeak. Andrew is a next gen researcher, speaker, and author for Growing Leaders.

I have the honor of spending time with some of the premier athletes around our country in Division 1 athletic programs. It’s amazing to me how hard they work for success in their sport. Sadly, as I read about our country, these student athletes are the exception, not the rule.

I read a statistic the other day: up to 70% of child athletes give up on their sport before the age of 13. Lots of kids who show real potential eventually give up, for several reasons. Maybe there is too much pressure. Maybe their parents are making too big a deal out of their success, or maybe for one reason or another, the sport just isn’t fun anymore. No matter the reason, it’s a major problem.

Let’s think about this problem another way. The next time you are sitting in a massive stadium—watching ultra-talented athletes take the field—there is a very real possibility that the most talented athlete in the stadium is not on the field, but in the stands. There are so many young athletes who have given up, that those on the field might just be the ones who worked hard enough and long enough, not the ones who were the most talented.

When we speak to coaches and athletic department leaders around the country, we hear stories of this principle in action. Even if their athletes stay on the team, they don’t seem to want to put in the work to get better. I actually had a coach say to me recently, “My guys won’t work out hard in the gym unless I put music on for them. It’s like they don’t have any internal motivation anymore.”

Five Stories that Could Help


If you are like many coaches or leaders across the country who struggle to build resilience in your kids, athletes, or students, I want to suggest a solution. One way to keep yourself going is to see resilience in others, so you can then believe in yourself. When I meet someone who has overcome great obstacles to achieve success, it motivates me to do what I couldn’t before. In other words, seeing someone else in a harder place succeed, while I am sitting here with all of my advantages, I realize how few excuses I have to not succeed.

I encourage you to watch some of these short stories, and pick one that you think will be powerful for the athletes you lead. Show it to them. Talk about what the person has had to overcome. Talk about the advantages you and your students have. Then, make a commitment together to never give up, but to work even harder.

1. Jeremy Poincenot, the Blind Golfing Champion

Jeremy lost his sight, but he didn’t give up on golf. Now, he is a champion.

2. Alcindo Soares, the Trash-lifting Community Developer

Alcindo comes from a poor community, but it didn’t stop him from creating a gym—out of trash—for his community.

3. Katie Cooke, a 20-year-old Competitive Runner

Katie has 14 seizures per day, but she discovered that running is the antidote to the huge obstacle she faces each day.

4. Nick Santonastasso, a Disabled Body Builder

Nick has one arm and no legs. He could have seen himself as limited, but instead he decided to ask how far he could go.

5. Timothy Alexander, a Paraplegic Football Player

Timothy is a friend of Growing Leaders. After a car accident left him paralyzed, a dream told him he was supposed to keep playing football.

When I was 14 and a freshman in high school, I tried out for the soccer team. I showed up early on a Saturday for a 2-hour try-out with other hopefuls. Up to that point, soccer had been a love of mine, but looking back I don’t know if I ever really saw much competition before that moment. I didn’t make the team that fall, and it crushed me. It crushed me so hard that my career ended there. That early Saturday morning ended up being the last soccer game I ever played. I gave up. It’s something I regret—even to this day. I wonder if I had kept practicing, kept working, or spent time with a coach one-on-one if I would have been able to make the team the next year. I’ll never know. Don’t let this same thing happen to one of your student-athletes. Help them tell a different story.

Would you be interested in having Timothy Alexander come speak to your student-athletes? Check on his availability by visiting our website here.

Want to prepare athletes for excellence in sports and life?
Check out Habitudes® for Athletes.


Habitudes for Athletes helps you:

  • Transform a group of individual athletes into a unified force.
  • Create teams of student-athletes who build trust with each other and their coaches.
  • Create language to talk about real life issues in a safe and authentic way.
  • Build teams where every athlete thinks and acts like a leader.
  • Build athletes who make wise decisions that keep them in competition and out of trouble.

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Five Resilience Stories that Could Keep Your Students from Giving Up