This is a tough decision for many young players out there, and a tough decision I had to make after graduating from high school. I knew that I wasn’t ready for college right out of high school because like many kids, I had no idea what I wanted to “do with my life”. What I did know was that I wanted to travel and continue competing in Disc Golf tournaments as I had been doing for years with my family.
My guidance counselor at school did not understand my “untypical lifestyle” so he did not help out much with helping me research online schools, so I just decided to “take a year off”.
I went out on the road and had a great summer traveling in the 2004 summer and then into 2005. I had decided to go back to school and live the college life with my friends in Ohio. I think this solidified that I couldn’t stand the lectures and sitting in classes, and I still had no set vision for my life yet (but the parties were a blast! J ). I took the next 2 years off of school; I continued to travel around competing in tournaments without being tied down to one place.
When I felt that my career as a professional disc golfer was taking off in 2007, I figure I would start looking for sponsors outside of Disc Golf – Couldn’t hurt to ask right? I wrote hundreds of emails, made handfuls of profiles on sponsorship sites, and sent magazines and portfolios to dozens of companies I thought would be perfect for a sponsor. (How many responses did I get? One and it turned out to be a Disc Golfing woman I knew that worked at Columbia. She sent me out some sweet gear, but told me that Columbia didn’t sponsor individuals.) I knew I had done the best I could with what I had and what I knew about business, but I still wanted to know what companies wanted out of a sponsorship. I also wanted an answer to why disc golf isn’t getting the “big corporate sponsors” we all think it should have. This is when I realized that I wanted to learn more about Marketing and how businesses actually work.
I looked into online schools in March 2008 because I figured that this would be my best opportunity to get an education while still doing all the traveling and competing. The most creditable online school I knew was the University of Phoenix, so I looked into this school and within the month I was signed up for classes.
I knew I had made a big commitment going back to school, but I was more motivated because I knew what I wanted out of this education (and it was worth the money I was spending on it). I really put a priority on doing my homework and getting my assignments done on time, even if it was 2am during or after a long tournament weekend. I did my homework on my laptop driving down the road, in the plane, at countless restaurants/ bars, after winning 2 world titles and 2 national titles, and in 6 different countries. No matter what I was doing or what tournament I was competing in, in the back of my mind I knew I had schoolwork to get to as soon as the round was done. I don’t regret going to school for one bit, and I am glad I put in the effort for the past 3 years while still maintaining a high level of competition.
I know that the “school thing” is not for everyone, but I do think it is important to have a Plan B after Disc Golf. While we all hope that Disc Golf will be huge someday and we make a real living off it, the fact is that it is not there yet. My main goal in going to school was to figuring out the marketing aspect of Disc Golf, so I can use my education to help the sport. This sport is full of so many opportunities; the world just hasn’t realized them yet.
So, School or Disc Golf?? How about both?