Seniors Recognition Banquet
Big C Society Speech--Bob Haas.
April 27, 2005
It is an honor to be with you - people whom I have admired and whose achievements have brought me great happiness over the years. Some of my earliest and happiest childhood memories were of going with my father to games at Memorial Stadium and at the old Harmon Gym.
I grew up rooting for Cal and thought that the best thing a person could ever do was to compete for the Blue and Gold. Unfortunately, I was never gifted athletically. But I've never stopped rooting for Cal teams - in every sport. And no matter what else is going on in my life, any time we beat a Stanford team is a great day!
Before I get into my remarks, I want to congratulate you on your achievements. You have competed at the highest level and earned a Big C. Along the way you have developed valuable skills and personal qualities that will enable you to be successful in whatever you choose to do. Additionally, you will be graduating with a degree from America's top-rated public university and one of the greatest educational institutions in the world. You will find that long after the crowd's cheers have faded away, your degree will open doors, earn you great respect and be a source of lasting personal pride.
I have been asked to talk to you tonight about "How to Succeed off the Playing Field," or, as one of your coaches puts it, "What to do after the air goes out of the ball." Up to this point, sports and school have been at the center of your lives. So, I'll bet that many of you don't have a good idea of what you really want to do for the rest of your lives.
Don't worry: you are not alone! I felt that way as graduation approached, and I'll bet that many of your non-athlete classmates are in the same boat. Unlike many of your classmates, however, as a student athlete you have had to make sacrifices that have affected your Cal experience. Between conditioning, practice, team meetings, travel and competition, you've been limited in the time you had to hang out and socialize or try a broad range of classes outside of your major. You haven't been able to travel or live and study in another culture. Most of you didn't have time for summer jobs, internships and other resume-building experiences. So, I can understand it if you feel you are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting launched in the next stage of your life.
Well, I have some good news: despite the sacrifices you've made and the things you've had to forego, you have a huge head start when it comes to succeeding in life thanks to the skills and experiences that you've gained as an athlete.
Let me remind you of the capabilities and skills that you have and can use to succeed in your future endeavors:You are skilled in managing your time. Because free time has been scarce, you're used to working under pressure; you know how to focus, multi-task and prioritize.
You have the ability to take direction, accept feedback and make changes. By being tested, you know your personal strengths and weaknesses.
Importantly you are self-motivated; you can improve when no one is watching or giving you a pat on the back.
You know the value of thorough preparation. You understand what John Wooden meant when he said: "Many have the will to win. Fewer have the will to prepare."
You are disciplined and driven. You're used to working hard and persevering. You've shown that you are willing to put in the time needed to succeed and, if necessary, outwork others to get an edge or achieve a goal. You have lived Joe Kapp's words: "The Bear Never Quits! The Bear Never Dies!"
You have high expectations and personal standards.
You're used to being held accountable and judged for your performance. Setting and achieving goals is second nature for you.
You also know how to deal with things that you can't control. You've faced setbacks and know how to regroup and bounce back from adversity. Through competition you've developed self-confidence; you're not intimidated by challenges or new experiences.
Over the years you've learned how to play roles, to work as part of a team and to be responsible to others. As a result, many of you have already practiced leadership and have well-developed communication skills.
Throughout my life I've associated with outstanding people in many different professions. Often, as I get to know them, I discover that they were once competitive athletes.
What is it about successful athletes that allows them to achieve more in life?
They are passionate about what they do.
They never let up; every day is a new opportunity for self-improvement.
The most successful competitors are self-motivated; they are driven and take initiative.
Winners value the team's success above their own achievements.
Great athletes are enthusiastic and positive; people are attracted to and follow those with a confident attitude.
These are attributes that employers value…and co-workers envy!
So, while it may not feel that way, you are already more prepared for success in the future than you think! "That's great," you say. But, to be honest, it's scary to have to start over - to be a "rookie." For the first time, you are on your own: you won't have coaches to give you direction or teammates to support you. But, wait a minute! Believe me, you have many resources to draw on; there are a lot of people who are eager to help you - just ask!
So here's some quick advice on how to get started in figuring out what you want to do with your life and getting that first job.
First, actively cultivate a wide spectrum of people.
Take advantage of contacts and network with people like
Other members of the Big C Society
Cal alums and boosters of your sport
Professors and advisors
Your parents' friends
Or teammates' parents who are in fields that are of interest
Use the resources available to you here:
Go to the Career Center
Get an assessment at the Tang Center
Seek the advice of coaches - they know you as well as anyone, and they want to help you succeed.
Seek out and talk to people in your field of interest. Present yourself to them as if they are future employers. You never know who will put in a good word for you or go out of their way to help you find a position.
All of this should provide you with some perspectives on what's out there as well as some leads for job opportunities.But that's just a start. The really important work is figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Let me give you a few tips on how to approach this as well.
It all starts with passion. Successful people are passionate about what they do. They'll tell you, "I can't wait to get up in the morning because I love what I'm doing!" You know all about this. You have had a passion for your sport, or else you wouldn't have put in the hours in training and made the sacrifices you have made.
To figure out what is going to "light your fire," spend some time thinking about what you are interested in, what makes you happy, what you are good at, what you truly want to achieve and have your life stand for.
Remember: you will be working for the rest of your life; take the time to think it through so that you make the right choice.
Be true to yourself. Don't do something to meet the expectations of your parents or friends; remember, you are working to please only one person: yourself!
Don't confuse money or prestige with lasting sources of happiness.
Be confident in your abilities. Keep in mind and apply the lessons you learned on the field, court or in the pool - they'll serve you well. Once you've consulted with others, thought things through and figured out what you want to do, here are some tips on getting started.
The important first step is to get your foot in the door (even if initially you need to work for free; no one will pass up free labor!)
Your first job will give you: experience, contacts, references and an opportunity to see if you like a particular line of work or company.
Seize opportunities; try a lot of different things to see what you're good at and enjoy.
Be flexible; your first job may not be what you end up doing for the rest of your life.
Remember, like sports, there are peaks and valleys in whatever you do.
But above all, don't allow yourself to get stuck doing things you aren't happy doing: Move on!
Don't settle for "good enough" or mediocrity (you haven't up 'til now; why start?).
Finally, make sure you are working with people you like; life is too short to be dragged down by people you don't respect or who don't pull their weight.
So let me recap the key things I've said:
First, you have a lot to be proud of: earning a Big C and, shortly, a degree from Cal.
You start the next stage of your life with a lot of experiences and personal attributes that will serve you well in whatever you do.
Use your contacts to help you figure out what to do next and how to get started.
Spend time figuring out what you want to do something that you can feel passion about - before plunging in.
And then, get going!
I'm confident that you can be successful. Good luck….and Go Bears!
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