By Randy York, The N-Sider
Even though the credit is anonymous, someone once said that a positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible. That quick-hitting thought describes Nebraska senior Michael Colgate, who will tee off Monday morning, May 15, at the NCAA Division 1 Men's Regional Golf Tournament in Sammamish, Wash.
Before Colgate became the first Husker to qualify for the NCAA Men's Golf Championship in five years, I tried to write a definitive story in mid-April to chronicle his amazing rise to represent UNL after beginning his collegiate career at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Now we have something even more timely and relevant – Colgate's inspiring speech that he shared last Saturday with 51 University of Nebraska fellow student-athlete graduates. I recommend that Husker fans everywhere take the time to read every word from his well-conceived and well-received speech.
The speech exemplifies Colgate's staunch belief that when a defining moment comes along, you can do one of two things: Define the moment, or let the moment define you. Even though that line emerges from the movie Tin Cup, the narrative comes straight from Colgate's heart and defines what it takes to achieve something very special. Colgate's words are carefully chosen, and they show his deep appreciation and genuine awe for his incredible journey at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Read Colgate's Speech to Fellow University of Nebraska-Lincoln Graduates
"If you would have told me six years ago that I would be graduating as a student-athlete for the University of Nebraska, I would have thought you were crazy. At that point during my senior year of high school, I had no idea where I was going to go to college, no idea if I was going to play college golf, and no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Coming out of high school, I wanted to play for the Huskers so badly, but the fact of the matter was I was not ready yet. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend Nebraska-Kearney a few hours away from here. Essentially, I thought that my chances of being a Husker in the future were nonexistent. After a few years there, catching a couple breaks and playing some decent golf, I was offered a spot on the Husker men's golf team.
"Before I left Kearney for Lincoln, I was talking to one of my friends about how cool it was going to be to play for the Huskers, and then she said something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. She said 'You don't get to play for the Huskers. You ARE a Husker.' If that didn't tell me that I was making a great choice then I don't know what would. I am a Husker. I could say that all day and it wouldn't get old to me. When I got here, I was blown away by everything around me. The facilities here are unlike anything I've ever seen. There's a facility tailored to each individual sport, and everywhere you turn there is some sort of state-of-the-art fitness or workout area.
"I mean, honestly, everywhere you go around the stadium there is a chance to better yourself. We even have places where you can eat as many bagels, cheese sticks, and beef jerky as you want. That's huge for a college kid. Being a part of the Husker athletic program for four years provides a great opportunity to better yourself every day. My dad always tells me that if you can get a millimeter better every day, imagine how much progress you can make in a few years. I had the privilege of being here in Lincoln two years, and while it went by fast, I can say that I made the most of every day.
"I look around the room with all of us seniors graduated and ready to start a new chapter in our lives, and I can't help but think of what a remarkable group this is. We have national champions, future professional athletes, and people that are going to make a big difference in the world. I'm not sure I quite fit into any of those categories. All I do is hit a ball around with a stick and chase it and hit it again. Just being in everyone's presence today is such an honor for me, and I can't thank everyone enough.
"One last thing that I'll leave you with is a quote from one of my favorite movies. The quote is from Kevin Costner from the movie Tin Cup and it goes like this: When a defining moment comes along, you can do one of two things: Define the moment, or let the moment define you. Before my senior year of high school, I played in the U.S. Junior Amateur in Bremerton, Washington, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious junior events in the world. More than 200 college coaches came out to watch, and future stars like Jordan Spieth were were in the field. I was in over my head and I darn near got dead last, and I felt like I had blown any chance I had to play college golf.
"I was embarrassed and I'm pretty sure I cried more than I ever had in my entire life. Fast forward to now. A few days ago, I was chosen to represent the Huskers at the NCAA Regionals in about a week near Seattle. It's a little less than an hour away from the tournament I played six years ago, and I feel like its fitting that I head back there next week as this journey comes full circle. I'm going to do my best to make sure I don't get almost dead last again. No matter what, I'll be representing the Huskers to the best of my abilities and I will try to define that moment. I'm proud to play for the Huskers. I'm proud to be a Husker. And I can't thank you all enough for being here today. It has been a great ride and I'm looking forward to the next part of the journey. Thank you!"
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