Hope and Determination

Mike King was from a high school with only 30 seniors. He was 6’5” tall, weighed 205lbs, and played basketball. Although he was undersized for his position, he did get interest from major schools. He chose to play for West Virginia University which was close to his home in Fairchance, PA.

As a freshman, he only averaged 9.5 minutes per game and scored 3.4 points per game. His sophomore year, his playing time almost doubled and he scored 5.8 points per game on a team that had a record of 27-4. His junior year was a disappointment with a drop off in both minutes played and points per game.

How does a young person handle disappointment? In Mike King’s case, he became determined to do better. His senior year he more than doubled his playing time, points per game, and rebounds per game. One of the most memorable photos of all time is of a victory in Mike’s last game at the Coliseum (shown below).

Four years after graduation, Mike was diagnosed with cancer. He was given six months to live. He battled through very aggressive chemotherapy and won his battle against cancer. While undergoing cancer treatment in Texas, he was visited by WVU alumni who offered help to him and his family.

Mike King is a demonstration of something that is often missing in today’s athletes: a determination to challenge themselves rather than running away from challenges. One of the most important lessons in life is developing the ability to work though the challenges life confronts us with – not to run away from them. Unfortunately all too often, we facilitate running away. In the case of athletes, it’s the abomination called the transfer portal.

As athletes hop from school to school and people hop from job to job, we lose the determination to work through challenges we face. Determination is an essential ingredient of hope and without determination hope is nothing more than an illusion that is unlikely to be fulfilled.

Was Mike King’s ability to defeat cancer aided by his determination on the basketball court? Medical science would probably say no. But we have to believe that a determination to fulfill our hopes applies to all aspects of our lives even when we are told we only have six months to live.

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“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”  – Henry J. Kaiser (Industrialist)

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