CJ Santiago: Seeing a Greater Purpose

Nov 13, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki on November 13, 2008 at 2:35 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm

I feel that the most important lesson that I've learned from Coach Mendenhall is how unimportant football is compared to other aspects of our lives--starting with faith, our education, family and friends. I think what Coach Mendenhall has really done is put things in perspective on the importance of life. What many young athletes don't think about is even the best football players don't play more than fifteen or twenty years, while the majority of us don't play past the collegiate level.

Coach Mendenhall is preparing us for a life that has nothing to do with football. By helping us succeed in the classroom first, he is helping us paint a picture of our future. It's not always the clearest picture, but it is a start, and it is definitely pointing us in the right direction.

What's funny is I am starting to realize that by spending more time on faith, education and with family, that it is improving our quality of life, which in turn has been leading to success on the football field.

It is said that one of the greatest fears among young adults is the fear of the unknown, and that is one thing that this program is trying its best to eliminate. With such a strong emphasis on education here, along with the help of our advisers and guidance counselors I feel that fear of the unknown isn't a huge problem. The majority of us know what we want to do and are taking the necessary steps to attain these goals.

I think one reason Coach Mendenhall has been able to get more out of us as a team is because we are starting to see a greater purpose in what we are doing. He says that our success in football is just a vehicle to drive a more important message. It is more than just football. He is pushing us to succeed in life as businessman, teachers, coaches, doctors, lawyers, fathers, sons, husbands, etc. And I think it is when we see that clear vision of our future--and we know it is within reach, and we get that sigh of relief, that moment of joy--that nothing seems impossible.

It is times like these when we can work harder than we ever thought, exceed expectations, overcome any obstacles, and play football because we love the game. So basically, what I have learned and what I'll never forget is to remember what's important in life, to find your passion, and let it fuel a fire that can never be put out.

Visit CJ's bio page here.