Turn the page

We get 365 chances to turn the page this year.

That’s a lot of opportunities to go left, right, stay straight, throw a U-turn, travel in the fast lane, the carpool lane on just cruise as a nice speed in the right lane.

We wake up every morning making choices — some calculated, some on a whim — on how we are going to live.

We take chances here and there and choose what changes we will make in our lives.

To some, the thought of change is paralyzing.

To some, an adventure.

To some, taking chances is so far outside of their comfort zone.

To some, it’s a daily occurrence.

We sometimes look back a page or two, when reading a book, to understand what’s going on — a reminder, you might say.

But, we don’t stay in that part of the book.

We read.

We turn pages.

We learn.

We anticipate.

We move forward.

That’s life.

We learn, we teach, we move forward.

Each day is not easy.

Some days are far harder than others.

Yet, we wake up the next day and move forward.

We fail.

We get up.

We succeed.

We get up.

Abraham Lincoln, widely considered our best President, failed and did so a lot.

But, he also had his fare share of successes.

Lincoln never stopped moving forward after the good or bad.

He turned the page.

Lincoln continued to look through the windshield and didn’t stare through the rear view mirror.

Thomas Edison did the same thing.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” — Thomas Edison

Failure is a great teacher, yet, we use failure as something bad.

It’s not a life sentence.

It’s a setback.

We turn the page to seek something greater in our lives — and to make other lives greater.

We cannot forget the past, but we must learn from it.

We reach for something better.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” — Jackie Robinson

Brandon Burlsworth was a walk-on for the football team at the University of Arkansas.

He had scholarship offers from small universities, but wanted to be a member of the Razorbacks.

He was redshirted his freshman year and decided it was time to make a change — take a chance on himself.

Burlsworth started a new chapter in his life.

He transformed his body, losing some 40 pounds of fat and building it back up with muscle and tons of hard work.

He earned a scholarship and became a starting right guard.

Burlsworth was selected a team captain before his junior year and was a First Team All-SEC performer in 1997 and 1998.

He graduated from Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree — becoming the first Razorback football player to earn an MBA before playing his final game.

The walk-on was then selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and was slated to be the right guard for some quarterback named Peyton Manning.

Haven’t heard of Burlsworth?

After participating in the Colts’ minicamp, 11 days after being drafted, he was heading home to take his mother to church.

Burlsworth was 15 minutes from his home in Harrison, Arkansas, when he was killed in a car accident — April 28, 1999, at the age of 22.

He has been called the greatest walk-on in college football history.

The Burlsworth Trophy was started in 2010, recognizing “college football’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. The trophy is presented to a young man who embodies the values that Brandon Burlsworth stood for.”

Winners of the award have been Sean Bedford (Georgia Tech, center), Austin Davis (So. Mississippi, quarterback), Matt McGloin (Penn State, quarterback), Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin, receiver), Justin Hardy (East Carolina, receiver) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma, quarterback).

Burlsworth’s No. 77 was retired in 1999, the second in school history.

His locker is encased in glass in the Arkansas locker room.

The Harrison Youth Center was renamed the Brandon Burlsworth Youth Center.

The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation was created. There is also the Burls Kids and Eyes of a Champion program, in addition to football camps, scholarships and awards associated with Burlsworth and his character.

Watch the movie “Greater.”

There is no way it was easy, but the Burlsworth family, through the foundation and other avenues, turned the page and positively changed the lives of thousands of children and young men and women.

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” — Joyce Meyer

You learn or run.

Smile or frown.

Laugh or cry.

Whatever happens, turn the page and be better.

You have two choices — be in a championship game and lose or never make the championship game?

What do you choose?

The answer every time is to be in a championship game and lose.

Cannot win one unless you are there.

If you lose, turn the page and work harder to get back there.

If you are never in one, continue to work as hard and do your best to get there.

There really are no other options.

Turn the page and made the day better.

You are owed nothing.

Zero.

Bupkis.

Wake up, work hard, look people in the eyes and be the sunshine for others.

Then take the next opportunity and be great.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. He can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com and followed on Twitter @HSDTsports)

COMMENTS