Graduate student-athletes reflect


photo courtesy of AJ Mathew.

AJ Mathew inspiring Indian basketball players during his trip in the summer of 2015.

By James Meaney

Graduating college can be a scary prospect for a student, but for a student athlete the burden doubles. AJ Mathew was a captain for the Silverswords men’s basketball team last year and filled the gap after graduation by travelling to India, where his father is from, and inspiring children of India to get involve in the sport he had just left behind.

During Mathew’s trip to India he aimed to encourage and inspire children of his native land to get involved in basketball. He aims to motivate young children to earn a better life for themselves by playing sport to get into college to attain a degree.

“I always tried to welcome failure through college, without failing I wouldn’t be close to where I am today,” Mathew said. “Failure comes in all shapes and sizes. From daily life to sports to school to now, for me, business, I can say that I’ve learned the most from my failures. I don’t sulk about them, I observe and take note what went wrong and I build for a better future. People tend to get caught up in looking at failure as something horrible, but I truly believe every failure is a blessing because it gives you the blueprint on what you need to do next time.”

Mathew often reflects on his time spent as a student athlete and has been trying to prioritize so he can get what he wants out of life. He said that even though he misses playing college ball there comes a time where you have to prioritize and move forward with life, remembering that all your failures in college can make for success in real life. He is now working at his hometown of Detroit for Quicken Loans planning for his next move.

“My advice for anyone wanting to play or coming in would be simple: keep your priorities in life,” Mathew said. Set goals for yourself and realize what you have to do to achieve them. You are where you are for a reason. Remember that reason, remind yourself of it, and act on it. It is up to you to make the best experience of the situation you are in. Be the deciding factor of what you can accomplish, not what others say.”

Frankie Eteuati also graduated last year after playing for the Silverswords basketball team. He shared similar feelings with Mathew, but his advice for incoming student-athletes was to remember why you play and where you got your passion.

“Focus on your passion and use it as a tool, not a craft. Focus on your craft and using your tool will become more enjoyable,” Eteuati said.

“You can do what makes you happy or you could make money. I wish I would have made more passion-based decisions instead of the most lucrative ones,” Eteuati said.

It’s important to balance a passionate love for your sport with tentative attention to your education.