Ready to give up.
One time I did.
One time, I thought, as I was beaten down by the physical exhaustion of "awareness training" which is a grueling workout designed to make the person performing the exercises regret ever making the same mistakes again, that I do not want to be part of this.
I was struggling with grades.
I was struggling socially.
My world was crumbling down.
Eventually...I did quit. I gave up on my dream of being a football player. I remember telling my position coach that I didn't think it was working out. That I was failing in one subject and in danger of failing another. I was performing better in drills but at the same time I had no illusions that I was competing at the same level as many of the other players. I could hear the whispers that I didn't belong, that I wasn't one of them. I asked to leave.
It was a the most painful and most regrettable decision I have ever made.
It has, however, made me stronger.
Today, I ran for 10 miles around Lemont. Most of it, going up and down steep hills. My motivation was so high, at first, to do well. To prove to myself my level of commitment to be the best I could be. The best part about running that distance, and the amount of hills, is that you are repeatedly challenged, that as soon as you feel like you've won, that you've beaten your obstacle another one is put in front of you. You have to rise up, not once, but again and again.
After each hill, you sense that you feel as though you've gotten somewhere. Then there's a second hill, then a third, and so on. Each time, you feel more worn down, more likely to stop and give up and just go home. I could not accept that today.
Do not quit.
Do not give in.
If we give in, if we accept mediocrity due to the punishments handed by the NCAA due to the actions of Jerry Sandusky, and the perceived in-actions of Paterno, Curley and Shultz, then we will have failed ourselves.
Giving up, giving in, is to let a national audience and outsiders dictate who we are.
No matter how you feel about the punishments, the NCAA, ESPN, Paterno or anything else in the past, what matters is what we do now.
Who we are now.
Are we going to be who the media and pundits say we are?
I say we fight.
Fight for every possible good grade you can get. If you are faculty or a professor, do your job to the best of your ability and then some. If you're an athlete, perform your regimen to the best of your abilities and then continue to work as a student. This is Penn State, where it has always been expected that you do both. Much has been said of the reputation of Penn State taking a hit. It won't if the alumni and current students do not allow it. Carry yourself with dignity and class. Stand up for the great standards of excellence that the university has demanded of you.
In the coming days and months ahead, there will be more headlines and stories. More naysayers and pundits. They are only obstacles. And they can be overcome. As emotional a time as this has been we must respond in reasoned and thoughtful ways. We cannot be lured into a shouting match with national media outlets. We must achieve our goals by actions and methods worthy of a civilized and highly educated culture.
Each day we will start at the bottom of a hill, and each day we must climb it. There will be no tangible reward immediately, and there will only be more hills to follow. It may seem like the obstacles are endless. That each day is more bad news and more hills. But if we fight. If we continue climbing our own personal journeys with the spirit and heart of a lion, then perhaps we can create a University that is even better than the one we had.
I've been here before and I gave up.
That will not happen again.
Fight on State.