Defying the odds and soaring to new heights speaks to even the most casual observer. On the surface, sports may seem less important to some, and it’s the human element that provides depth. Whether it’s tuning in to see an Olympian set a new record or watching Michael Jordan “fly” from the free-throw line, the impossible is now possible and everyone waits to see what happens next.
It’s easy to lose sight of how much time and effort, along with a ton of hard work, goes into making it all look so effortless. While some athletes get by on pure talent, others develop mental toughness and a work ethic to take that talent to the next level.
Take UVU senior forward Geddes Robinson for example. He is in the top 20 nationally in rebounding and leads the country in pulling down offensive boards. He is also one of the most reliable defenders for the Wolverines. Success in these areas depends on a couple of things according to Robinson.
“It’s hard work and a mindset for sure,” Robinson said. “No matter what it is, if I have to dive on the floor, go to the glass, box somebody out, whatever I have to do, I try to just get after it.”
Robinson may be one of the hardest working athletes in college sports, and he opened up on his development over the years in an interview Wednesday afternoon.
“Growing up I tried to work on all parts of my game,” Robinson said. “But over the years I kept hearing ‘play defense, play defense, and get stops.’ I finally believed in it and started focusing on it more. Whoever scores more points wins, but playing tough defense limits the other teams chances.”
Often it takes necessity to trigger an “ah-ha” moment that leads to change, and that was true for Robinson during his journey with UVU. When asked about his defensive epiphany, he was quick to reply.
“It was a little after the season started last year,” Robinson said. “We have so many offensive threats on this team that I felt like I had to bring something else to the table just to keep playing. So I focused on doing all the little things to help the team win like defense and rebounding. There will be nights when your shot isn’t falling but you can always play defense.”
As the Wolverines head into conference play, their effort on defense will be something to watch for. Defensive hard work doesn’t always pay off immediately, but seeing results is rewarding as well as inspiring. Specific plays like getting a steal and a fast-break lay-up or dunk can, according to Robinson, be that pay-off that sparks an even greater effort on defenses.
“It ignites us a lot,” Robinson said. “Once you see it’s that easy, as far as playing good defense that leads to easy baskets, it makes you hungry for the next stop. You just keep playing aggressive and you see guys getting lay-ups, and I mean everyone loves lay-ups, that’s the easiest shot in the game. We get fired up and we get after it so we can get another one.”
Robinson’s story is not only one of adaptation and progression; it’s also a reminder that while not all may have the natural talent of others, working hard can make good things happen for everyone.
Jonathan Boldt – Assistant Sports Editor