Your athlete story doesn’t have to end with you. Seeing the number of responses, shares, and comments that came because of tthe Dad, I Thought Being Good At Sports Would Make You Come Around article and the podcast lately inspired me on another level for why this whole 9INE POINT Media thing started. To create a platform for athlete-driven media.
It should not be about the status or popularity of the athlete telling the story but the message behind it.
When I first got the idea for 9INE Point the summer of 2017 I was a year out of school and I just left from being a co-founder/CMO of a tech start-up aimed to help athletes find injury solutions. That mission was big for me because of my ACL story but I realized I wanted to help athletes on a larger scale.
I thought we need to hear more authentic athletes stories outside of the usual ones we hear repeated on media platforms like ESPN and Fox Sports. They’re inspiring no doubt but we can’t always relate to some of those athletic journeys and so many stories go unheard.
Out of that, 9INE POINT Media was born out of the mission to help athletes share their stories regardless of their popularity or status.
Even though that was the mission for some reason I kept telling myself I needed to find what society label as an “elite” athlete to partner with me thinking it would give me more credibility in the sports industry. You know Derek Jeter started Players Tribune, and I later found out LeBron James started Uninterrupted. So who is Jacolby Gilliam to take this on?
Thinking who is going to take this no-name walk-on serious?
I’m not living the stereotypical high roller athlete lifestyle. I’m paying student loans and funding this through 9-5 jobs and freelancing.
For me, my story started when I faced my first stint of adversity when I tore my ACL my senior year of high school. As a 17-year-old athlete, I didn’t know it then but I definitely went through a phase of depression.
Low-key I thought my life was over, so much of my life was planned around athletics especially college.
Plus at the time, you weren’t hearing any stories about athletes overcoming ACL tears and making it back. I didn’t think I would even be able to go to college yet alone afford it without a scholarship.
This story continued when I walked on to the track team at the University of Oklahoma after recovery from my ACL tear in six months instead of the recommended nine.
I wanted it so bad, to prove people wrong that said I couldn’t be a D-I athlete after the injury. But that season wasn’t God’s plan, I pulled my hamstring 3 days before the first meet at practice and was cut from the team.
But who am I to talk about my shortcomings? Who wants to hear my story? I was an under-recruited athlete with a torn ACL that didn’t make the cut for the OU track team my freshman year.
More Athlete-Driven Stories
I still think that way today sometimes, if I am honest. The truth is our stories are so important. Hearing our journey could be the motivation some athlete needs that is going through something similar.
I’m no Olympian. I wasn’t a pro. I’m wasn’t even an All-Conference. I am a former walk-on student-athlete. A walk-on that overcame tearing an ACL. Being cut from the team his freshman year but ultimately walked-on again the next season and made the team getting to achieve his dream of competing as Division-I student-athlete. Yet walked away from the dream once I earned a paid marketing internship
At those moments of what felt like defeat I wish I could have read stories like this. Stories to help me understand how another athlete overcame similar anxieties and situations like I was going through at that time. To know I wasn’t alone.
Every athlete has a story that can inspire another athlete on their journey
I didn’t find validation in my own story because I didn’t think anyone would care or relate. I lowkey wasn’t drinking my own 9INE POINT kool-aid. After so many interviews on the Started With A Dream Podcast, I’ve realized so many other athletes don’t see the value of their athletic journey at first either.
Are you ready to be Vulnerable?
In the midst of that excuse I just gave in the paragraph above. The truth is I was scared. Until recently the thought of being vulnerable and willingly letting people see that cracks in my armor terrified me because now it would be off this pedestal of a perfect brand image I’ve helped build. I’m an imperfect athlete.
Believe me, I get it. Being vulnerable is scary, letting people inside walls that we put up to protect ourselves from being exploited is real. Fan-driven sports media platforms make us out to be invincible specimens then slander us for not living up to their standard of the perfect athlete role model. So how would it look talking about my flaws, weakness, or how we’ve overcome them?
It makes us look real! Someone other athletes can relate to through authentic athlete-driven content.
Despite what others may think we are beyond athletes. We are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, scholars, activists, the list goes on but most importantly we are human. We go through real-life things just like everyone else.
With social media so many of us live behind a filter showing a staged reality when deep down we are hurting or trying to heal.
Athletes Need Your Story
My story may not be the inspiration a 5-star recruit needs to keep pushing or a para-sport athlete needs but your journey could be.
Think about your younger self, what stories would you tell him or her to overcome the battles and victories you have experienced?
Again I get it. Being vulnerable putting yourself out there can be challenging and uncomfortable. The community here at 9INE POINT is here to support and encourage you to be authentic about your athletic journey without any judgment. We are Athlete-Driven.
Why can’t your story be the inspiration another athlete needs to keeping moving towards their dreams.
Let’s do our part to help current, former, and the next generation of athletes by being real by what it truly means to be an athlete-driven. Our athletic story and journey doesn’t have to end with us.