by Zach Yeo in Stories, image by guigui_sk8_74

My First Failure Brought Me My Greatest Success

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At practice today, myself and a teammate were just talking about different things related to high school, what we did for fun, who we hung out with, and what sports we did.

She then went on to say that she played basketball her junior year but sat the bench the entire season, which led her not to try out for the team her senior year. She then ask me, “Did you play basketball in high school?”

I couldn’t help but smile and have a slight laugh when she asked.

I then told her that I played basketball from fourth grade until eight grade, but once I got in high school I wrestled because my best friend. Cory Draves made me fall in love with the sport. In high school, it was the same season as basketball so I had to pick one over the other. I chose wrestling.

Although I totally sucked at the sport, I enjoyed the physical demand of it. After my sophomore year, I made it a mission to try out for the varsity basketball team, since the wrestling program wasn’t as good as our basketball program and I wanted to be part of a winning team.

I can remember that summer leading into my junior year, I went to every open gym, lifting day, & any pick-up game I could make it too.

Once football ended, the Ten days of toughness started. It were ten straight days of the hardest conditioning I’ve ever gone through. Stadiums, down & backs, and 6 AM practice is what it consists of.
I went every day. The following week was our five-day try-out.

We had 15 guys trying out, of which 14 would make the team.

I can remember the fifth day; it was a Friday, we had practice from 8 to 10 PM, then we all had individual meetings with Coach Andy Secor afterwards. He called each person in one by one. A few people went before my name was called.

I walked in his office and sat down across from him. He asked how I thought the try-outs went and of course I told him I did my best. He then said that he appreciated me putting in the time throughout the off-season by going to all the team camps, open gyms, & lifting days. Then…

“This is probably the hardest thing to do as a coach, but I have cut you.”

My heart starting racing, I started to sweat, I’ve never felt more sick to my stomach, I started to choke-up, and my eyes started to water. I held all my emotions back the best I could as I thanked Secor for the opportunity and walked out of his office.

But that wasn’t even the hardest part, it was the next thing; telling everyone in the hallway that I just got cut from the team. Telling your eight closest friends you just failed at something you worked towards for the past seven months.

It didn’t end there. I then had to face my parents. As my Mom picked me up and I got into the car she said with an enthusiastic voice, “Well…??” as she just assumed I would be giving her the good news, I had to tell her the bad.

This was the first time In my life I failed at something; I found out that working hard doesn’t always produce success.

One month later, my high school track coach asked me to run at GVSU at an indoor track meet.
I went and ran the 400 in 51.4 and took first place.

The failure of not making the varsity basketball team brought an unexpected success in something totally different.

Looking back, it was probably the best thing to happen to me. I’m now a four-time NAIA national qualifier, running on a collegiate athletic scholarship. Can it get any better?

I got cut for a reason, I got to taste defeat and failure. It’s what drives me now, pushes me, and gives me the will to succeed and not fail again. So, I thank you, Andy Secor, from the bottom of my heart.

Zach Yeo




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