The conversation began with a simple question.
Why did Tyler Reynolds elect to stay in Sioux Center with a group of other similar minded student-athletes this past summer.
Why did they elect to pursue jobs on campus and work out as a team while foregoing the comforts of home.
And with the answer I was looking a little deeper. I wanted to know if it was worth it and what were some of the bi-products of staying either close to campus or on campus for the summer.
As the new school year begins, here’s a look at how Tyler and many others like him spent the summer and what their takeaways were. Turns out, it wasn’t just the physical and athletic training that improved.
This is a question that I have been asked a countless number of times in the past few months. To elaborate, the question in its entirety is usually something along the lines of, “You’re from California, so why did you stay in Sioux Center, Iowa for the summer?”
The terse answer that I have typically given involves a half-smile, a partial shrug, and me saying the singular word, “Football.” And, in full transparency, this answer simply doesn’t do justice to my true initial intentions, nor does it pay respect to the experiences I was blessed with here, in Sioux Center Iowa, throughout the summer of 2019.
I initially made the decision to stay for the summer over Christmas break while I was back home with my family in Yuba City, California. However, I had already been heavily contemplating the idea from the time I first stepped foot on campus in July of 2018.
I don’t exactly recall how I broke the news to my family. What I do remember, unsurprisingly, is how they weren’t the biggest proponents of the idea at first. Luckily for me, I have parents who have always been supportive of my endeavors, whatever they may be. So yes, they didn’t necessarily like the idea of me not coming home for the summer, but they were supportive of the fact that it is what I wanted to do, so they went with it.
I think part of this is due to how they both are well aware of the kind of work it takes to be a part of football team, as my dad is an extremely passionate and successful high school head football coach. They understood where my intentions lied, balancing a tight rope between self-improvement and chemistry building with the other teammates who were also going to stay for the summer.
From the very start of the summer I knew that I had made the right decision. Going through the lifting sessions, conditioning, and practices with our coaches and the other players who opted to stay is unparalleled to any other form of summer preparation for the upcoming season. I’m sure this statement will be refuted by some, so allow me to back it up with my own personal evidence.
Back home, I have access to an amazing sports-specific training facility at Fit 1 Athletics, as well as a personal trainer who I have been working with for years at helping me become stronger, faster, more limber, and in great cardiovascular shape. Yet, even with all of this at my fingertips back home, I still feel that my time here in Sioux Center was invaluable.
There simply is something special about putting in the work with your teammates, rather than on your own, and on top of that, being able to further learn from your coaches and work on the weaknesses in your game is invaluable.
Going through the training sessions with the “summer crew” (as we were often coined) allowed all of us to not only improve physically, but it also allowed us to strengthen our relationships with one another which, in turn, helped to strengthen the foundation of love that our team is built upon. Having the opportunity to improve in both of these areas was, and still is, of a high importance to me.
This is mainly due to the fact that as a person, student, and athlete, I have always been intrinsically motivated by altruistic factors. In other words, I have always found myself to be the kind of person who, in whatever it is I do, strives to constantly better myself with the intention of bettering those around me. In football specifically, when I can do things to better myself that subsequently make my teammates, and the team as a whole, better, I feel like I am doing what I am truly meant to do.
Another benefit of staying over the summer is how I was able to build new connections and relationships with people.
Now, this benefit of staying is completely unrelated to me as an athlete and quite frankly never even crossed my mind of being a potential reality when I was making my decision to stay for the summer, but I still find it to be extremely valuable.
I mean, I’m only going to be an athlete for so much longer, so being able to find non-athletic related benefits within an athletic opportunity is a huge bonus. Through my on-campus job and church connections, I met many new people with whom I began to build relationships with. I shared meals with people who I had just recently met, as well as with people that I never imagined I would, and it is for these unimagined opportunities that I am extremely grateful.
I have talked about the benefits of staying on-campus for the summer, but what about not being home? Was this a hard thing to do? And my completely honest answer to this question is no—no it really wasn’t hard for me to be away from home for the summer.
I feel that this is partially because I don’t mind being away from home, and partially because of the unfathomable amount of support I receive from my parents, as well as the rest of my family. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my family, a lot, but being away from home for the summer wasn’t something that I found to be difficult, especially when I consider the benefits of staying.
This is because as I look back on it, the benefits of staying truly did outweigh the costs, and for that I can’t be thankful enough.