An Erb's Palsy story about Faith, Determination and Grit
Updated: May 10, 2019
Sometimes you hear stories from people who fill you with positivity and restores your faith and belief in something bigger and better. They show pure determination and grit and won't stop until they have reached their goals. This is one of those stories. The following article was written by Myles Matthews who has #erbspalsy #brachialplexusinjury and he's worked so hard to prove to himself and others thet nothing can hold you back if you work hard enough.
From the outside looking in people see the success but never understand someone else’s struggle. This story, my story, is no different in this regard. Friends and family know me for the accomplishments I achieved on the football field or the way I carry myself with pride. These moments did not come without a process and struggle. I personally have a quote that I came across that defines my journey with BPI clearer than any other quote I have came across before. It states, “ I shed a lot of tears just to smile in the moment.” These twelve words hit home like never before.
Being born with BPI is an obstacle you cannot explain, but something you have to go through yourself to understand. Some may say we are at a disadvantage. The looks, the doubt, and the lack of opportunity in the beginning definitely make it seem that way. Over time you start to realise that what people see as a disadvantage is really a blessing in disguise. My thought process gradually changed at an early age. Three major components altered the way I perceived myself and the way I would allow people to perceive me for the rest of my life. Faith, action, and determination are the three things I realised I needed to reach my fullest potential. These principles were acquired from things my parents instilled in me. Faith is something that you believe in with out being able to physically see it or touch it. My goal as a child was to earn a scholarship and play collegiate football. I always had faith it would happen, but I cannot say the same for many people on the outside looking in. Through the doubt and lack of opportunity at times this dream and goal I set for myself seemed so out of reach at one point. Growing up I endured the teasing and laughter but my faith did not allow it knock me off my course. Day in and day I would train to reach my goal of earning a scholarship. I would eventually become one of the top players in my area but teams would still hesitate to offer me scholarships. I knew the reason why but I did not want to accept it.
Instead of continuing my process of earning a scholarship I took a different route and chose to walk-on a football team at a school of my choice. That opportunity was short lived in my opinion for the same reason that coaches would not offer me a scholarship out of high school. At that point I was looking to transfer to a community college to have the opportunity to get recruited again. Coach Jeff Kelly was one of the only coaches to answer me when I was looking for a home. I ended up at Garden City Community College where I consider this a turning point in my life. By the time I settled in Coach Kelly had taken a job at different school, and I winded up red-shirting my first year at the school. I continued to practice and the coaching staff still would not give me the opportunities I felt I deserved, especially when I was performing at a high level day in and day out. As the new season came a new coach was hired. A guy by the name of Coach Jeffery Sims came in and elevated the mindset I once had when I first started my journey.
In Kansas Junior College Football at this time they had a rule that only 20 out of state kids could be on the active roster. Coach Sims was the type of coach that wanted the best of the best to play on his roster. I remember sitting in his office when we first met and he told me “ What ever percentage you lack in your arm, you have to apply that in your work ethic.” Naturally when I heard this I took it to heart and worked harder then ever before. I would go through fall camp competing with some of the best talent I have played with to this date. Every day of training camp would be judgement for the day they announced the roster. As the first game week approached he sat everyone down and announced the 20 players that made the roster initially, and I was not one of them. Naturally my emotions were at a low point, but there was still hope as coaches in the league had opportunities to change their roster if injuries occurred. The first game of the season my teammate who played the same position as me broke his foot, and I was told prior I was next in line if something like this were to happen. Not to wish injury on anyone, but my confidence and faith was at an all time high. I felt my time was finally here.
As we prepared for the next game I still had not met with coach to be informed that I would be playing this week. I took it upon myself and went to his office to figure out the details of the situation. When I arrived I was informed that the coaching staff had went with another player instead of me to fill another void they had on our team. This information felt like I had been defeated. My frustration was almost at a point of no return. I went to the locker room and sat there for at least an hour and just cried. At this point I felt as though I was at rock bottom and nothing I could do would help me reach my goal I had set as young kid. As I sat there I thought to myself, I have two options. I could first let rock bottom bury me or use rock bottom as the foundation to build my legacy.
"You have to remember that you would never know how to enjoy the light if it was not for darkness, and you would not know how to celebrate success if it was not for failure."
I thought back to the three principles I live by. I would use faith, take action, and I was now more determined than ever to prove to the coaching staff that the decision they made was the wrong one. Everyday in practice I would compete at a high level, I would make plays, and hit everything that moved. I would constantly remind the coaches that they made the wrong decision and they could not use my injury as a limitation to dictate my ability. After about week six of the season one of my teammates got in some trouble, and a spot on the roster opened up. The coach had no choice but to put me on. After 2 and half years I finally got my shot to showcase my ability. We played the number one team in the country in junior college and beat them on a national level. I earned player of the week and the four-year universities started showing interest. As the season came to a close recruiting started to pick up and I thought my scholarship was finally going to come in, boy was I wrong.
The four-year coaches would come in from Division 1 and Division 2 schools and loved the way I played on film. The only thing that stopped them from offering me a scholarship, was the doubt they had about the nerve damage in my arm. There was a point in time where my head coach told a recruiter that if that recruiter was smart and wanted to win that he advise him to offer me scholarship and not my teammate that was standing right next to me. The college recruiter still did not offer me after my coach verbally told him I was a better player. As time went on frustration set in.
I earned my associates degree, played some of the best football I ever did in my life, and still no scholarship. I winded up back home with no school and no team to play on next year. My faith was at an all time low once again, but I continued to train with hopes of an opportunity to achieve my goal. January turned into February, which turned into March all the way until June hit almost 2 months before college teams started to report to camp. I would call my former head coach every other day and ask him "any new news?" He would reply "no, but you have to trust me an opportunity will come."
I kept my faith in him and in the process and as I was sitting in my neighbourhood when the head coach from Colorado State University-Pueblo called me and wanted to offer me scholarship. This was the moment and opportunity I waited for a long time. This was the first of many to soon come after. I eventually took a visit to the school and their principles of faith, trust, and patience aligned with what lived by my whole life. I committed there and played 3 seasons at the university, and in the process obtained my bachelor's degree.
Now that I have overcome this part of my life it has inspired me to start my own brand. Next Big Thing: Faces of the Future serves as a platform to shine a light on emerging talents and the culture surrounding them. This platform was created and inspired from not getting the proper exposure coming up as well as not wanting other talented people to get over looked during their journey coming up.
I share this story to empower any one who has been at rock bottom. It feels so much better when you endure your process and reach your goals. You have to remember that you would never know how to enjoy the light if it was not for darkness, and you would not know how to celebrate success if it was not for failure. Everyone has a purpose and the struggles you go through will prepare you for when that moment comes.
Massive shout out to Myles for taking the time to write about his inspiring journey. I really hope that you found it as inspirational as I did. Remember that whatever your situation is right now, it's just temporary. You have the power to be Empowered, Resilient, Brave and Strong. You have the power to succeed.
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