Wayne Simien

Finishing what you start reaps rewards beyond playing days

by Wayne Simien September 05, 2010 in Men's Basketball

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As the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award enters into its 10th year of being a nationally recognized award, its prestige has increasingly grown among the college athletics landscape.  An award that was originally formed to honor the loyalty of men’s and women’s basketball players is now presented across 10 different sports and continues to expand. Unlike many other accolades that merely recognize athletic performance, this award stands alone. It identifies characteristics in student-athletes that retain value far beyond their playing days.

Finishing what we start is a quality that is becoming all too rare.  Whether it is something as small as completing a puzzle or as important as being a committed spouse or parent, you find more things left unfinished than ever before.  Certainly things come up, obstacles arise, adversity sets in but a former coach of mine said it best, “Anything worth starting is worth finishing. Anything worth finishing is worth fighting through adversity for.”

College athletes know all too well about fighting through the kind of adversity that would keep you from finishing.  For them, adversity may come in the form of a performance slump, a losing streak or an injury.  Yet time and time again, we see these men and women persevere through obstacles such as these to finish a game, the season or their career victoriously.  How much more important is it that we encourage these student-athletes to take that same fortitude and apply it not only in the classroom but in every area of their lives? 

As a former student-athlete, I never felt pressed to finish what I had started more so than at the end of my junior season playing basketball at the University of Kansas. My junior year saw me sidelined with a season-ending shoulder injury, but I was recovering and expected to have an all-American senior campaign. With the opportunity to turn professional early, a critical decision had to be made.  The question that was at hand for me was not, “Stay or go?” but rather, “Finish or quit?”  The commitment to my family and team along with honoring my word inspired me to stay and complete my senior season. Who could have known that the decision I made would turn out to be one of the best decisions of my life?  I finished that senior season a college graduate, a first-team all-American and a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award recipient.

Within collegiate athletics and life in general, there is an aspiration to not merely finish, but to finish with excellence.  No athlete more accurately depicts this trait than a world-class sprinter.  Once they leave the starting blocks, there is no deceleration until they cross the finish line. I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned in that effort and tremendous significance when we apply it to every area of life.  This is what sets the Senior CLASS Award apart – it celebrates loyalty and achievement for staying in school.  And that loyalty and commitment is something that every athlete can use far more than an athletic talent. That loyalty and commitment is something that I am motivated to continue to cultivate as a husband, a father, a friend and an employee. We all want to leave a legacy. Yet legacies are left by those who finish and not by those who merely attempt to finish. 

Let’s finish what we start.