The opportunity to play collegiate athletics comes once in a lifetime and possesses the potential to transform the long-term quality of your life. An athlete could use this chance to develop and refine their athletic talents in order to create a career via professional sports. But even if you don’t go pro, the academic opportunities provided through collegiate athletics are endless, setting you up to create the life you have always dreamed of.
During the seventh weekly installation of Trey Athletes’ Fireside Chats, we had the pleasure of listening to two former NCAA Division I basketball players who are now successful businessmen – Blake Jolivette and Jordan Borucki. They shared their stories and experiences as collegiate athletes, the life-changing decisions they made, and the futuristic thinking that has led to their successful business careers. The exceptional tidbits and advice that Blake and Jordan imparted were beyond informative. They provided us with some thoughtful tools that can be utilized while making a college decision, tips on choosing future college majors, and frameworks for thinking about a future beyond the ball.
Blake Jolivette and Jordan Borucki grew up in polar opposite realities. Blake described his upbringing as relatively privileged, attending a private high school in Houston; comparatively, Jordan grew up as an inner-city Los Angeles kid who went to public school — yet, they ended up in the exact same place, attending the same college, playing for the same team, and ultimately, achieving successful business careers through strategic and futuristic thinking. They understood that moments weren’t defined by what you do in them, but what you do with them. Blake is a successful General Manager for the country’s oldest and largest elevator company, Otis Elevator; while Jordan is the Founder and CEO of Legacy Enterprise Management, a consulting firm and business incubator for professional athletes, tech companies, and brands. Both Blake and Jordan set themselves apart from the rest of their teammates by balancing their academic and athletic commitments. They both realized that in order to manifest success in life, they needed to create a holistic, multi-dimensional version of themselves; and Blake and Jordan did just that. In this talk, the former college roommates and teammates highlighted some detailed points of advice that helped them in their journey of practicing balance. Below, we have included four of the most noteworthy takeaways that we believe will assist in your future decisions on and off the court or field.
- Choosing a school is a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision. Blake and Jordan discussed the challenges they faced throughout the college basketball recruiting process while noting that every individual’s journey is different. Some of you may be like Blake, who received 20-plus offers with the opportunity to choose the school you want to attend; and some of you may be like Jordan, who struggled to get recruited in high school, opting for an extra year in prep school. Either way, the opportunities will come if you continue to work for them. When choosing a school, it can be an intimidating experience, filled with unsubstantiated flash and unrealistic expectations. Blake and Jordan gave important advice regarding choosing a college, specifically to find a program that will help propel you forward and prepare you academically for when you’ve hung up your jersey for the very last time. Choosing a college based solely on athletics is never a good decision. While we all hope for the best, it is important to be prepared for whatever life may throw at you. And this starts and ends with choosing a school that fits your long-term goals.
- Be disciplined. As a collegiate athlete, in order to understand balance, you must be disciplined in your thought process regarding life on and off the court or field. Jordan alluded to the fact that being a collegiate athlete is no easy feat, as you endure long practices and long school days, followed by long tutoring sessions. While it may be easy to take your foot off the gas pedal and slack off academically in the moment, you have to be disciplined and strategic in your efforts outside of your sport. You must balance your time and effort with both your sport and your academic studies, and take advantage of the once in a lifetime opportunity in the lifetime of the opportunity.
- Be adjustable and mentally tough. The transition from high school to college is difficult and requires mental toughness, physical readiness, and emotional intelligence. As Jordan and Blake noted, be adjustable! For Blake, he had to adapt to the schedule of late nights and early mornings; and Jordan had to acclimate culturally to his new environment. For these two, polar opposite realities are no surprise, as their adjustment factors were totally different; but their mindsets remained the same. Their adjustability created opportunities and molded skills that they have transferred into their everyday lives, allowing them to grow in so many ways.
- Prepare by being strategic and futuristic in your thought process. Both Jordan and Blake understood that their basketball careers were short-lived moments in their lives. They knew that, eventually, they would need to prepare for professional endeavors beyond sport. While they loved basketball and worked extremely hard toward achieving their athletic goals, they understood the concept of balance, which has led to their success in life. Blake spent his first scholarship check on a suit, took headshots for his Linkedin page, and earned an internship at the age of 17; talk about forward thinking – this guy was truly prepared for all possibilities! Jordan had the opportunity to intern at a sports agency while he was in college, giving him the chance to gain exposure and professional experience as he took strategic steps toward his future. Whether it be medicine, business, journalism, or the arts, be futuristic in your thinking as you look to reach your goals outside of sport. You’re never too young to create a plan, so start now!
Blake and Jordan provided us with some great advice, tips, and tools that we hope you all will incorporate into your own lives and decision-making. As young people, it is easy to think that you will be young forever, and that your decisions either don’t matter or won’t have lasting impacts. Imagine if Blake and Jordan didn’t successfully balance their academic and athletic lives while in college. They certainly wouldn’t be where they are professionally, nor would they be sharing tidbits with you! As you look to build the life you dream of, look to these guys for the blueprint. Understand that your athletic careers are critical but short-lived; so balancing your athletic goals with your academic ambitions is fundamental to achieving ultimate success in life.
Camille McGirt is a former collegiate women’s basketball player and current MBA student at Harvard Business School. Camille holds sports close to her heart and loves the fun, grit, and tenacity of competition. She has a social enterprise that she started in 2011 to enhance the health/wellness of black girls, Healthy Girls, Inc. Additionally, she recently launched EXTA, a mobile technology that allows athletes to get personalized mental sports performance support. During those times when Camille isn’t working, she’s likely hanging out with family/friends, traveling, working out, or trying out new delicious food!
Emanuel McGirt played football at NC State as an offensive tackle from 2015-2020. He is now working as a Project Coordinator for the NC Department of Administration and is also the co-founder of EXTA, a mobile technology that allows athletes to get personalized mental sports performance support. Emanuel experienced two injuries while playing college sports and feels very passionate about ensuring that all athletes have the tools they need to get their physical body and mental psyche in shape — always ready to play! In his free time, he enjoys freelance writing, working out, and playing Call of Duty!