According to junior Nick Skordilis, football has taught him about winning, losing, friendship, competition, hard work and perseverance. That may seem like a lot to gain from just one activity, but not for Skordilis, who has been playing football for 10 years.
The sport has taught him many life lessons, he says, but the one that was most meaningful, and toughest to learn, was how to deal with adversity. Skordilis learned this lesson his sophomore year, when he sustained a serious injury in his elbow that prevented him from practicing or playing.
Skordilis got his start playing backyard football as a child, competed in a strong football program in high school and came in prepared to improve and contribute to the tradition of success in Wittenberg’s program. After the Tigers won a conference championship his freshman year, it was only up from there, he thought. Until he got injured.
“It really changed the sport for me because I felt like I had to start all the way over again in the weight room while other people on the team just kept getting stronger,” Skordilis said. “I really felt like it set me back.”
He eventually had to have surgery on his elbow, and said he spent most of this season still experiencing pain. When he recognized that his elbow was not going to make a miraculous recovery, he decided his mindset still could.
“I realized that because of this injury I was not going to get as much playing time as I had in the past,” Skordilis said. “But I was going to make the most of it and make my teammates around me better so they could reach their goals and we could be a better football team.”
He knows, however, that part of improving and pushing his team comes from improving and pushing himself. Skordilis says that he lives by a motto from Benjamin Franklin: “If you do tomorrow what you did today, you will get tomorrow what you got today.” While some things, like his injury, may be beyond his control, this motto reminds him to do what he can and try to improve every day in both football and life.
Part of the lesson he has learned through his adversity in football is that the situations you are in do not define you, but the way you respond to them does. With that, he leaves advice to discouraged athletes that having fun and working hard are more important that being the best player on the field.
“Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and say you are not good,” Skordilis said. “Just be the best that you can be because that is what’s important.”