I wish I was a better writer and could compose a better story than this is sure to be. I'll give it the ole college try, however. My son's athletic story is one of total dedication and perseverance as some of yours that I've read.
His talent lie mostly with hockey - although he was an excellent baseball player when he was younger. He stopped playing baseball when he was about 13 to concentrate on hockey. He had played AAA hockey since Major Atom (U13) and was never a bubble kid but he was never one of the go-to guys either. In his Minor Midget year (U16) the coach indicated to us that he was definitely on the bubble. This scared him (and us) but he managed to make the team. The coach was a #### to a number of players (some many more than my son) and had his favourites that he played way too much. My son was a defenseman so a team carried 6. Most anybody who looked at our team would say we had 6 quality D-men and not much separation between #1 and #6. However, this coach played 2 guys significantly more than anyone else. It was tough on a lot of kids, including my son. U16 is the OHL draft year. You need to play to be seen.
Backing up a bit, when my son was about 13 he stopped eating any junk food - to this day he doesn't eat chips, candy bars, cookies, fried food, soda, etc. He started working out regularly and since his U15 year he was always the most fit on the team.
OHL draft comes and goes and 9 players from our team got selected. 3 defensemen. Up to now he still had hoped deep down that someone would pick him - he was 6'1 at the time, a solid right shot defender and got overlooked. He could have given up at this point even though many people would tell you that doesn't have to be the end. It's tough - around here most kids only think of the OHL and not college hockey . The following year he played Major Midget (U16) which is decent level but not many OHL teams are watching. His coach here gave him lots of opportunities and he did get asked to a few Jr A (OHL) team camps for the following year but was cut quickly. he continued to work out and work on things over that summer and the following year got a chance to be the go-to guy on a Jr B team (one level lower than OHL).
I think I'm rambling now.
Teams were starting to notice as he finally got a chance to play a ton of minutes and show his upside. The Windsor Spitfires signed him but there was a crazy situation that gave the London Knights a chance to claim him so even though we knew London would be a bad place to end up he had no choice. Signed with London. Pretty exciting for us and him and all because he never quit. He got 2 years of university schooling paid, guaranteed. Only played minimally one season (I'll take the high road and not diss on the Knights and the opportunities he was/was not given)
Last year they told him they didn't' have a place for him so he was offered a spot on a Tier 2 Jr A team near Toronto. He was named captain. The team had a great season and lost in the league final. That team also gave him a year of school paid. He could have played one more season as a 20 year old this year - had lots of offers, but decided on his own it was time to concentrate on school.
Couldn't be more proud of him. He got #### on lots through this whole process and ended up doing something that a very, very small percentage of hockey players get to do.
If you read this far, thanks!
He just turned 21 and is taking Kinesiology at a local University. He had a great run!