“TOUCHDOWN”: One College Essay That Worked

One college essay that worked.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Francesca Nemati

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

“TOUCHDOWN!!!!” I state loudly, spiking the football into the end zone. Heck yeah! I am the man! I drop down to my knees and vocalize this statement again to the stadium: “HECK YEAH! I AM THE MAN!!” I wait for my fans’ cheers to come. At first, I think they’re chanting my name, which, in my case, is Bruce. BRUCE! BRUCE! BRUCE! But then I realize that it’s not Bruce. It’s BOOOOO! What is this?! They’re booing me!

“What the heck?” I state, getting up. “Why are you booing me?” On the sidelines, I see the ref blowing his whistle and waving his arms. What’s his problem?

“WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM?” I vocalize loudly at him, taking off my helmet. Maybe I’ll chuck it at him. Then, I see Coach Boleslaw running toward me from the other side. I decide not to throw it because I already have two infractions from the National Sports Safety Organization (NSSO) after decking the last few refs. Coach warned me that if I do it again, I’m off the team.

Coach B looks mad. What’s his problem?

“MCTOUSIK!!” he loudly states. (McTousik, by the way, is my last name.) “WHAT WAS THAT?!”



I look around … durn, he’s right. I’m in the wrong end zone. That explains the booing, I guess.

From this challenge, setback, and failure, I learned many things which were fundamental to my later success. Because in that moment, I realized that I was not The Man. In the locker room, I was so mad I punched the paper towel dispenser off the wall.

Coach B sat me down. My hand was bleeding on account of me punching the paper towel dispenser off the wall. Coach said something to me I will always remember: “McTousik. What is this? Are you a boy or a man?” And that’s when I knew—I would train hard. Sweat hard. It was time to do a 360. I would become The Man.

To help me achieve my goals, I began to utilize a plethora of tools—not just the bench press and power rack, but also mental tools, including determination, sportsmanship, and, most importantly, a motto, which I like to call the “M-A-N” of Football.

Muscle/Mental: Firstly, Muscle was essential to achieving my success, on and off the field. I sweated as none have before. I worked out on a non-stop, 7/24 practice schedule. I was the first in the gym in the morning, the last one to leave the gym at night. My teammates started calling me “Bencher” on account of me benching frequently. Two months after I started training hard, I could bench 9 plates and do more bicep curls than anyone on the team. The second M is “Mental,” because it’s all about getting yourself into the game. As I always say, 90 percent of the game is mental. The other half is physical.

Attitude: There will always be another guy who can lift more than you. That’s just a fact of the industry. It’s like Gatorade versus Powerade—every guy has strengths and weaknesses. However, it’s all about your Attitude, how you approach the situation. A lot of guys on the team were better than me at the slide tackle. (That was a Con for me.) But ultimately, I also had my Pros, because I could do the best slam tackle on the team. So in the end, it all balances out.

Never Give Up-iveness: Lastly, there were many times on my football journey I could have given up. But I didn’t. Day in, day out, I practiced running with the ball toward the end zone, and I made sure to double and triple-check that it was the right side before I did my touchdown. Was I The Man? You bet.

In conclusion, I learned many things from the setback that later allowed me to become stronger both physically and mentally and a better artist in the craft of football. However, most importantly, I became The Man. From that day on, I always scored touchdowns on the right side. Or the left side. Either way - the correct side. I didn’t get any more NSSO infractions for sportsmanship again, only property damage. Looking back, I am astonished by how far I have come. It’s hard to think I was once 99 percent boy, 10 percent man, and now it’s reversed. As Coach Boleslaw always says, “‘Boy’ and ‘Man’ are both three-letter words. But they are different letters.”