And it was such an amazing story to think you had gone from overweight to, six years later, you have this amazing transformation into an athlete. It doesn't even seem possible. How did you keep on that path. I mean, I've been overweight and lost most of it, and it's hard enough just to try and get skinny, and not to an NBA, professional athlete level. How do you achieve a goal like that?
How much do you want it? The bottom line with most people who fail to achieve achievable goals, there are always outside factors, of course, but it is mostly a question of: do you want it enough to do what's necessary? Those people who can't honestly answer that question with a yes, they will never lose weight, or never become a doctor, and never do whatever it is that you are trying to achieve.
And how big of a factor was The Plan?
That was the factor. It was the X factor. That was the difference between achieving my goal and not achieving my goal. It guided me throughout my entire career, with almost every decision that I made. And now, it guides me again in a different career direction.
Because on the site, one of the things you see is people getting caught in the 'I'm not out, and it's high school, and it's homophobic' and the next step is you see the grades start falling, and you can see that it's just getting worse. So, it seems having something like The Plan is good to help you make good decisions for the long term, and not just get mired in the present day, which can get you severely off-track.
You can, but the problem is, when you're 16-years-old, a year is a very long time. So, being in an environment where every day you feel persecuted and every day you feel unsafe. It's the organization's job and responsibility to make that environment conducive for people to perform. It is not the individual's job. So, while there are many brave young people in high schools who form GSAs and other groups to try and help them succeed, it's really the school's responsibility to make sure those hallways and those classrooms are a place where they can thrive. So, it is legitimate for young people to feel somewhat at odds with their environment and, although I do agree with you that, yes, in an ideal world you say, 'Look, pass this,' and in two years, it will be over. But it's incredibly difficult when you consider for a 16-year-old four years is a quarter of their life.
Well, I'm 38 now, so years just progressively get quicker.
Yeah, really. I agree with you.
But above it needing to change on an institutional level, there would be such benefit to sitting back and think, like your mother asked you: would you recognize your soul in the dark? I'm not sure what would have to occur to get that level of introspection going, but there would be amazing benefit to having young people think along those lines.
It would certainly be a benefit both for GLBT youth and for straight youth. It would be universally helpful if people had a better understanding of themselves and their own insides, yes. And it's not an incredibly difficult process. It does require patience and a real fortitude, because it's sometimes painful to look at the parts of you that you would rather deny.
I was surprised reading the book to think that, at some point, I was probably hearing your name on a regular basis, because I worked at a daily newspaper in eastern Pennsylvania around the same time that you were playing for Penn State. I was right near the sports desk, so I'm sure they were talking about you all the time.