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Walk-On Warrior: Drive, Discipline, and The Will to Win

When I was a kid, like many of you, I dreamed about playing college basketball. But not just any college basketball, I wanted to play for Marquette. My dad had been a student there during their one and only national championship in 1977, and needless to say, if Marquette was playing on tv, my family was tuned in. I grew up watching guys like Anthony Pieper and Chris Crawford, and while I admired what they could do on the basketball court, I really wanted to know what they did to get to that level. What did their workouts look like; what were they doing that I wasn’t?

I worked hard as a teenager, extremely hard: for years, I went to school at 6am to work out before class. I spent my summers on my driveway or at a local grade school gym doing ball-handling drills, finishing drills, shooting drills, and everything else I had been taught. The drills eventually paid off: I was a three- time all-conference player in high school and signed a scholarship to play division two basketball in Minnesota.

While I played a lot during my freshman season in Minnesota, I continued to think about what it would be like to play for Marquette. Following the school year, I decided to transfer and spent the summer preparing for walk-on tryouts in the fall of 2004. During that summer, I spent most of my days mowing lawns for a local business but would then head to the gym for a brutal training regimen. I ran hills until I couldn’t run anymore, pushed myself to the max on the basketball floor, and worked hard in the weight room.

That fall, I did make the Marquette men’s basketball team, and while I was in the best shape of my life, I would experience a level of training that was far beyond what I had ever seen before. I spent the season guarding future NBA point guard, Travis Diener, meeting NBA and media personalities, and learning the game from one of the best in the business, Coach Tom Crean. Every day in the weight room, I’d get re-introduced to what “maximum effort” truly looked like, and I started to develop a mentality that competing in everything didn’t have to just apply on the basketball court. I wanted to be a great student, a great public speaker, and a great ambassador for Marquette University because that’s what competitors do. Every week, I’d come home late at night and write about my experiences. I told myself, I want to remember this stuff so I can share it with my kids someday.

Following my playing days, I spent a summer working for former coach and ESPN commentator, Rick Majerus. When I wasn’t with Rick, I was assisting a sports agent with one of his top clients, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver, Donald Driver. I coached at various levels in different cities across the United States, and I continued to meet prominent basketball figures, eventually landing a job with the Milwaukee Bucks.

So, what does all of this mean to you? A couple years ago, I wanted to take everything I had written and create something meaningful. What if I could tell kids what it was like to play at Marquette? Who was Rick Majerus, and what made him one of the most unique college basketball coaches in the history of the game? Most importantly, what did it really take to play at that level?

My book, Walk-On Warrior, launched a few weeks ago and has become one of the best-selling college basketball books in the country. I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you that this book wasn’t written to rattle off a list of facts. The goal was to provide a raw and authentic look at what it took to play division 1 hoops. I wanted people to feel what I felt, to meet coaches like Lute Olson and Dan Hurley (UCONN), and to get into the workouts that made “Marquette Toughness” a staple that opponents came to expect night in and night out. I hope everyone reading this benefits from my story: maybe you learn a new drill, maybe you gain some motivation, or maybe it simply renews the confidence you need to have in yourself to perform at your best.

This book is for people that love the game of basketball. As I write this, I’m 34 years old, and while my playing days are long gone, basketball has opened doors for me that I never thought were possible. Every day, you’re either getting better or getting worse; you never stay the same. That extra minute of ball handling, extra sprint, or extra rep in the weight room won’t just make you a better basketball player, they will put you in a position to win the rest of your life.

Walk-On Warrior is available on Amazon

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