Creating a Foundation

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It’s been a process to explain my time in Europe. Catch up by reading part onepart two, part three, part four, and part five

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Many kids grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues. Whether it’s baseball, basketball, or football, it’s easy to fantasize about playing the sport you love for a living.

Austin Harrington, a native of Minnetonka, a well-to-do suburb west of Minneapolis, envisioned that future for himself. Harrington, a multi-sport athlete who ultimately chased glory on football gridirons, foresaw a future running routes in some of the best stadiums the NFL had to offer.

By the time Harrington reached high school, it wasn’t a stretch to assume he could one day play football for money. MaxPreps.com listed him as high as #11 in their rankings for wide receivers in the state.

To further bolster his prospects, Harrington later enrolled at a prep school in Bridgton, Maine. He spent six months there, absorbing not only the stiffer competition on the football field, but also a world that wasn’t as insulated as the one he grew up in back home.

“I didn’t know a lot about the world,” he says of his experiences back home. “My parents were amazing, gave me every opportunity in the world. They didn’t teach me all the lessons and techniques that I follow today, the stuff that made me successful. But it’s nothing against them. You just don’t know what you don’t know.”

I used to feel the same way, having thrust my parents into roles perhaps they were unable to accept. As a child, my parents always pushed me in the right direction, supporting me when appropriate, and condemning me when I failed science classes I had no interest in taking.

But that changed once I reached a certain age. My dad became less of a dictator and more of a mentor. My mom became less of a caregiver and more of a psychologist. This was predictable. Each of the relationships with my parents had to change, the realities of getting older becoming more inevitable.

Yet when turbulence began to invade my early twenties, I began using my parents as a crutch to deflect blame away from myself. I figured that since they didn’t warn me of what to expect, I was therefore not liable for the unfortunate things that came my way. Really, it was my privilege shadowing a youthful inability to admit I had some growing up to do.

You see, like Harrington, I grew up in a box, shielded from the way the world worked by neighbors entering retirement and housewives gossiping over hearing sirens the other night at 3 A.M. My biggest hardships consisted of standing in outstretched lines at Chipotle and trying to find a girlfriend to pry me from the depths of virginity.

And the idea that the rest of the world didn’t share the same experiences as me never crossed my mind.

But then I went to college.

***

What does St. Cloud State mean to you?” I ask Harrington of our shared alma mater while we sit down for a cup of coffee.

“St. Cloud State means,” Harrington begins with a chuckle, the memories of his past suddenly funneling to his brain. “St. Cloud State means experience the world and grow. It was really where I had my eyes opened up to the world.”

Harrington found himself at St. Cloud State after declining numerous opportunities to play FCS football, mostly from interested schools on the east coast who were exposed to the speedy wideout’s talents while he was in prep school. St. Cloud State played at the Division II level, a step below the FCS, but Harrington was still determined to continue pursuing his dream of playing on Sundays.

This plan seemed to remain on track once he signed to play for the Huskies. “I came back to St. Cloud State, mainly because of my girlfriend,” he explains, beginning a journey that would ultimately transform his life in more ways than one.

***Stay tuned for the completion of this article***

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A quick word from this post’s sponsor: 

Interested in buying or selling a home? RE/MAX agent James Eason can help with all your real estate needs.

Get in touch with him today by clicking on this link!

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