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Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports Your Life Coach

Kenjon Barner: Inside the Mind of an Athlete

The always smiling Kenjon

This is the third story in my four part series; “Inside the Mind of an Athlete“.  And this story is all about how you adjust to life once you’ve achieved your Ultimate Dream. It seems so easy, but like everything else it’s something that you need to prepare and plan for, because adjusting to living your dream can actually destroy you if your not prepared for it.

Meet Kenjon Barner, former star running back for Oregon. I asked Kenjon to tell me his story, share with us his dream and how he’s been able to achieve so much at such a young age. This is his story…

Kenjon grew up in a home full of love and competitive brotherly rivalries, his parents had their hands full; six boys and a girl.  So from a young age he learned that confidence was king! Being great at basketball gave him that confidence from the start. “I played basketball from the time I was three years old, it’s all I ever wanted to do.” He tells me when I ask him when football became his dream.  “I wasn’t really even thinking about football, I’d never played it, except with my friends in the yard growing up. But basketball was what I loved and was good at, and it’s what my family expected me to play.” 

Sarah: What changed?

Kenjon: In seventh grade (he laughs a little). My dad came to wake me up to go to practice, but I didn’t wanna get outa bed, so I told him I wasn’t going. I said I wanted to quit. My dad looked at me and said ‘then what are you going to do?’ It was such a huge part of my life, it’s like how do you quit the one thing you spend most of your time doing?  I looked at him and said ‘I want to play in the NFL’.”

Kenjon had never played football before, hadn’t studied the plays or warn a uniform, but when he said it out loud to his dad, and later to his friends they knew he was serious. When he set’s his mind to something, nothing stands in his way. “I’d always been a confident kid, growing up with five brothers you kinda have to be. I’ve always believed in myself.”

But all through my freshman and sophomore year of high school I was just thinking, man I gotta find a way to get a  job when I graduate high school. No one in my family had ever gone to college, it’s just not what I was exposed to, not an expectation I had. But my junior year I got a scholarship offer to play football, and I thought ‘wow that’s crazy’ but in the back of my head I was still thinking I need to get a job.  But my mom was like, there is no way you are not going to college now! And by the end of my junior year I really got to that place where I believed it was possible for me.”

Sarah: When did you start to think that the NFL could be a reality for you? When did that become your dream?
Kenjon: As soon as I got to college, I was determined to make it to the NFL.  Football had gotten me this far, I knew it could take me all the way. 

Sarah: What was it like for you on draft day?
Kenjon: The most stressful, annoying, frustrating, happiest three days of my life! My agent had warned me not to watch it live and to just wait for a call, but of course my family and I watched it nonstop. But then when I got the call from Carolina on the third day, wow that was amazing. It was such a celebration for my whole family. It was the happiest day of all our lives. 

Sarah: So you’ve achieved your Ultimate Dream, you’ve been drafted into the NFL. What was the experience like the first time you put on the uniform, walked into the stadium and took the field as a Panther?

Kenjon: My first pre-season game I wasn’t nervous. I thought something was wrong with me because I just felt so calm. This is what I’ve dreamed about, have worked all my life for a moment like this. Looking up in those stands and seeing thousands of fans I was just thinking, wow this is so crazy.  And as soon as I got out there they called my play as the first play of the game, and then suddenly I was a nervous wreck, taking the field for the first time in the first play of the game. They give me the ball and I fumbled it, and we lost position of the ball.  When I make a mistake like that, I can’t let it go. I chose not to let it go, because it motivates me and keeps me present. I take that negative energy and channel it for motivation. And the next time they called my play I was ready, I ran the ball for a touchdown. 

Sarah: Had you ever visualized that moment and did it feel the way you expected it to?
Kenjon: In order to do something you need to be able to see yourself doing it. I visualize the game before I play, I see myself running for a touchdown. Then when it happens I’m not surprised because I’ve seen myself doing it and I’m prepared. I think of it as God gave me that vision, allowed me to see it, and then he enabled me to live it out. 

Sarah: At Oregon you were a huge star, what’s it like to be living your Ultimate Dream, yet be the “unknown” rookie?
Kenjon: For me it’s easy, I’ve always had to wait my turn. Sit and be patient, watch and learn. My dad always says ‘What God has for you, you’re gonna get.’  If you do what your supposed to do, and put in the work, then what’s meant for you will come to you. You have to trust the process and be patient and know that if you do all the preparation, then when your turn comes, you will be ready.

Sarah: What’s been the most challenging part of your transition into living your dream vs. working to get it?
Kenjon: Adapting to the lifestyle is always challenging. But I have great guys on my team and they talked to me about how to be a man, and how to handle my responsibility. How to deal with the girls, money, and life. Those conversations really impacted me. Those guys really took the time to show me the ropes. I’ve always surrounded myself with good people and people I admire.

Sarah: What’s your Ultimate Dream now?And do you think you will live it?

Kenjon: To be a valued member of this team, and of course to win a Superbowl! And to give my son all the opportunities I possibly can.

I absolutely believe that if you set a goal and a dream you can achieve it. I verbalize a goal and believe it, and know I’ll achieve whatever I set out to do. My Junior year of high school when it came time for the awards, I missed the award for first team all-state. I felt robbed, after the awards I was upset and told my dad I would ‘make ’em pay’. I told him ‘I’m gonna score 40 touch downs and rush for 3,000 yards next year.’  The next year I scored 48 touch downs and rushed for 3,024 yards.

You’ve got to believe it with that kind of confidence. If you don’t believe in it then how can anyone else? People thought I was crazy, but my family knew that if I said it I would do it. You’ve gotta have that faith that confidence. And always keep your hand in God’s hand. 

Sarah: What motivates you?
Kenjon: Fear of failure. I want my son to know that his dad was not a failure. Not letting myself down and being accountable to myself. And the fear of not fulfilling what God has blessed me to be. I know he put me here for a reason, I want to maximize that potential. 

Sarah: I know you, and I know you’re always smiling and positive…. do you ever have a bad day?
Kenjon: (Laughing) Absolutely! But if I’m having a bad day I try not to show it. It’s what you do with that feeling and emotion that’s important. My mom is huge on detecting that, she calls me 15 times a day and can detect the slightest thing in my voice.  Her and my sister, they sense it, and they always know the right thing to say to get me out of it. I love my friends and family. I mean I really LOVE and appreciate them, I know they are always there for me. This job is stressful so you compartmentalize people, the ones who bring drama get a very small space if any, the ones who are there to help you be a better person are the ones you keep. 

Sarah: What’s your Hustle?
Kenjon: Hard work. Sometimes three workouts a day. It’s being away from your loved ones. And always trying to get better. If you’re not willing to work hard, don’t expect it to happen. 

I’ve had the honor to know Kenjon for several years and have always been blown away by the way he thinks and his positive mindset and loyal friendship.  It’s really from our conversations over the years that I learned so much about how tangibly success can be achieved. That there was a simple formula and that it didn’t just need to apply to athletes, I could apply it to.  So I did. And he really inspired that because as you can see he believes like I do, that when you speak something it holds power. When you believe in something and work for it, you can and will manifest it. And above all be grateful and humble and try to bless others with the talents you’ve been given. Take his advise, it works!

Kenjon surprising Kanen for his 8th birthday, with Ed Dickson
After playing football with one very happy Kanen

Kenjon Barner is a running back for the Carolina Panthers who just finished his rookie season. Follow his dream and inspiration on Twitter.


Be sure to read Part 1: Derrick Malone JR story.
And Part 2: Lavaiser Tuinei’s inspiring story. 
Part 3: this one
Part 4: Jonathan Stewart
Part 5: Patrick Johnson 


Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports

Lavasier Tuinei: Inside the Mind of an Athlete. Part 2

Inside the Mind of an Athlete: Part 2, is all about #TheHustle, overcoming adversity and never giving up. I wanted to share this story because it’s an unbelievable example of what is possible when you are committed to your dream, put the work in and don’t take “no” for an answer. It proves that you can overcome “bad luck” and any other obstacle that comes your way if you are truly committed to living your dream.

This is the story of Lavasier Tuinei, former Oregon Duck, and Rose Bowl MVP.  I chose “LT,” as he’s commonly known by friends and family, because his journey has been far from a bed of roses (pun intended), yet he’s remained focused on his goal and committed to his dream. As a kid growing up in Indiana, the son of an NFL player you’d think he would have been born with a football in his hand, but in fact basketball was his passion. His parents divorced when LT was very young, and his mother wasn’t at all interested in her son playing football, encouraging his love for basketball instead. But when he was eight years old he went to live with his father, and held a football for the first time.

Sarah: When did you discover your love of football? 
LT:  (I can hear the excitement and nostalgia in his voice). The first time I touched that football.  I didn’t want to put it down, I took it everywhere with me. I wanted to be just like my dad, who was playing for the Chicago Bears at the time. I asked him to teach me how to play and he gave me a choice. He said “go to sleep tonight and set your alarm for 5:00 AM, if you still want to learn how to play in the morning, come wake me up and I’ll train you.” The next morning I woke him up at 5:00 AM and we trained for two hours before school every morning he was home through high school.

Sarah: What is your ultimate dream?
LT: To play football in the NFL.

Lavasier transferred high schools his senior year hoping to get into a better football program, but the move backfired and he found himself ineligible to play at all his senior year of high school. Without playing time there were no college scouts and no scholarships. It seemed hopeless. But his dad wouldn’t let his son give up, he knew LT had talent, ability, and most importantly heart. So they drove together to colleges and tried to join the team as a walk on.  He was denied.

But his dad had an idea; move LT to southern California to attend the same junior collage that he’d attended and see if his son could get a chance to finally play ball. Things began to fall into place and for the first time in a long time LT was back on the field doing what he loved to do most, having fun, and turning in some impressive numbers. It wasn’t long before Oregon took notice and offered him a scholarship after just one season of junior college. But, “bad luck” seemed to tail LT and again his dream was put on hold as he worked out issues with his transfer and eligibility. It looked like his chance to play for Oregon was dead in the water.

Sarah: What did that defeat feel like?
LT: I felt like I was done. I couldn’t see a way out, the doors had all closed. I was just broken. Devastated. Here I’d worked so hard, gotten this close and was stopped by something out of my control, something the administration had done incorrectly. It didn’t seam fair.

Sarah: What kept you from giving up?
LT: Staying and playing another year for the junior college was not at all what I wanted to do, but what choice did I have? I guess I could have quit, but that was never really an option. When you have a dream that is part of your DNA it just becomes who you are. It removes the option to quit. Also my dad always believed in me, I wanted to make him proud. Show him I could do it and that all our hard work was worth it.

A month later LT got the unbelievable news that Oregon had fought for him and he was cleared to join the team. That spring training was a rough one. He’d never competed on that level, played with athletes of that caliber. He felt overwhelmed and under-prepared. “I sucked.” He tells me.  “I was this skinny kid from a little school with no credibility. I was dropping every pass. It was a mess. At the end of practice I went up to the coach and asked him if I could red-shirt my first year, I just felt there was no way I’d be ready to compete at that level by fall.”

But that summer, after classes he could be found at the practice facility studying plays. Every spare minute he had, he spent going over all the plays, learning the system, trying to catch up. And when fall training camp came around he didn’t drop a single pass. By the third game of his first season with Oregon he had not only made the team, he was named the starting receiver.

Rose Bowl MVP Lavasier Tuinei

Sarah:  You are named the MVP of the Rose Bowl, you have a great senior year at Oregon, did you expect to be drafted?
LT: I didn’t know honestly if I would get drafted. It’s a statistics game at the end of the day and I wasn’t sure I had the numbers the NFL was looking for. But when I didn’t it was another major disappointment. But I still believed in my dream. I knew I’d get a chance to play in the league. I knew that a team would see my heart, my athletic ability and take a chance on me. And then I got a call from Seattle.

Sarah: What has the last two years been like as an un-drafted free-agent?
LT: It’s been a struggle. A mix of highs and lows. In the past two years I’ve been signed and released by the Seahawks, Bengles, Cowboys and Patriots. It seems like every time I get my chance I have an injury that prevents me from being 100%. My body has worked against me, and I’ve pushed it beyond what it should have to endure and, played when it wasn’t healthy and I’ve paid the price.

Sarah: What was the lowest point for you over the last two years?
LT: The car ride home with my dad after I was injured and cut form the Bangles. He was so mad at me for getting injured and released. He said my career was over and that I’d never play football again. He told me I should quit. That broke me. Coming from someone you love so much and admire and credit for your success, that was devastating.

The hustle in action

Sarah: Where does your motivation come from?
LT: I have something to prove, to myself and to my dad. I know and believe I can make this dream happen, now I just need to prove it. And to my peers, at a certain point when your chasing your dream and you see other people succeed, you can start to get down on yourself for not being where you want to be. It can be humbling, but I’ve realized that not everyone is going to get my vision for my life and I’m okay with that. I’m doing it because it’s who I am, it’s what makes me happy and it’s what I love. Sometimes you just need to tune out what other people think of your dream and just use it as fuel and motivation.

Sarah: What is your Hustle?
LT: It’s every day. Putting in the work needed to get my body back to 100%. I’m in Hawaii now working with a trainer, training 3-4 hours a day, six days a week getting ready for that call from a team. It’s also keeping my mind right, I rely on prayer a lot for that. And… I play domino’s! (he laughs).  No matter how much you chase your dream it can never be all you do. Life is short you need to enjoy it, have fun, let your mind relax, save the next hustle for tomorrow.

Sarah: Do you believe you will achieve your ultimate dream?
LT: Of course! No doubt in my mind. I will make it happen.

I love LT’s story so much because he is a living example that no mater what comes your way, if you are committed to your dream and The Hustle it takes to get you there, and believe in it with your whole being… nothing can stop you. You will live it. He has already achieved so much. More than most men could even imagine, he’s lived those moments, been a member of several NFL teams. He is making it happen regardless of all the obstacles that stand in his way. And I love that not only does he believe in his dream, he realizes that it’s up to HIM to make it happen. He’s not waiting for some magic fairy to show up with a contract, he’s doing everything within his power, every day to get closer to his goal.

I also loved that LT doesn’t let other peoples negative energy sidetrack or destroy him. He turned that potentially toxic energy into positive motivation, making it just one more reason to be committed to achieving success. We all have “haters” in our life. People who don’t get us, and don’t understand why we would want to redesign our future and change our life. Let them hate, take that and turn it into fuel and additional motivation. People knock things they don’t understand or have the courage to do themselves, so just keep your eye on the prize, and know at some point when you’re super successful, they will come a knocking…. asking “how’d you do that, I want to try it now.” I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me in the past few years.

Remember there is no such thing as “bad luck,” we make our own luck. We prepare and do our part and if it’s right for us it will come to us. If it’s not, the door will close for the time being, and when we are actually ready the right door will open out of thin air. So, be patient, and like LT; never give up. We are all going to face adversity on our journey to the life we are creating. It’s not going to always be easy, there will be many days when we want to give up, but just like LT said; when you’re committed to your dream, failure is not even an option.

So… are you committed to your dream? To changing your life? If you’re not, none of this will work. But if you are, guys like Derrick and LT and myself are examples that it can be done. It’s not rocket science, it’s not complicated. But it is life changing, and it will work for you too.

Lavasier Tuinei is an un-drafted, free agent in the NFL. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram to watch his dreams unfold.


After this story was published, LT did get a call, from the New York Jets. He flew to New York and worked out for a few days with the coaches, hoping to make the team.  But no follow-up call came.  So he went back to his #Hustle, coming home to Euguene to continue training, in hopes the next call would come.  And in July it finally did.  This time from the Canadain Football League (CFL), and the BC Lions.  LT packed his bags and moved to Vancouver BC, thrilled to finally be a part of a team, and for weeks he practiced, worked and waited for his turn to play.  But yet again, it never came.  Instead he found himself in the all to familiar spot, of being cut from the roster.

But instead of heading back to Eugene to train like he had done in the past, Lavisier made a decision that would change everything.  He stayed.  He took a lease on a nearby apartment and decided to wait out the rest of the BC Lions season; even though he was no longer part of the team.  He told the coaches he was staying in town, and would be there if they needed him, and then he went out and looked for a “real job” to pay his rent.  When he got hired on at a temp agency he was grateful to be getting a paycheck, and went to work. For several weeks he worked his temp job, and trained himself, never giving up on his dream, or questing his faith that one day his opportunity would come.

Last week it did. The Lions had lost several players to injury and found themselves desperately needing a wide receiver, and who just so happened to be in town waiting for his shot? Yup. It’s not luck people. It’s what I like to call #ManifestThat, the moment when #TheHustle meets opportunity.  LT was ready to go when he got that call, realizing this might be his last shot at his dream.  So every day he practiced hard, determined to prove himself to the coaching staff, in hopes of getting a shot to actually play.

Yesterday, just days after being called back up to the team, and an hour before kickoff he was told to suit up, that he was starting.   With just a few plays into the game, as a BC Lion, LT caught his first pass.  And the ball kept coming his way, and each time he was ready.  And then the moment he had worked and bleed for, believed in and pursued against all odds, came…. he scored his first ever pro-regular season touchdown. WATCH NOW

Congratulations LT for never giving up on your dream.   For pushing past the point when most people would throw in the towel, and for doing it with quiet grace. You are the definition of #RelentlessPursuit and #HustleBelieveReceive in action.  This is your moment to shine.  You deserve it.

Lavasier Tuinei BC Lions
Lavasier making his first pro start with the BC Lions


LT making his first CFL touchdown
Lavasier Tuinei  making his first CFL touchdown


Lavasier’s inspiring true story will be featured in my book #HustleBelieveReceive available in 2015


Be sure to read the rest of this series:

Part 1: Derrick Malone JR story.
And Part 2: Lavaiser Tuinei’s inspiring story.
Part 3: this one
Part 4: Jonathan Stewart
Part 5: Patrick Johnson



Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports

Inside the Mind of an Athlete Five Part Series

*Note this series launched the idea for my book #HustleBelieveReceive and all five of these stories are featured in my book. 


What can a football player teach you about achieving your dream and finding success? A lot. Over the next five weeks I will interview and share, five inspiring stories of Oregon football players who prove that anything is possible, for anyone. Five unique stories, five stages of the same journey, one common dream, united by a common brotherhood. Each is on a mission to fulfill their Ultimate Dream. What is their common key to success?  The answer to that question, and what they have taught me could change your life, the way it did mine.

Living his dream.. Derrick Malone Jr. 
This series will feature players with one common background, they are all alumni of the University of Oregon football program, but their stories couldn’t be more different.  I will feature each stage of the journey:
1. A current college player, with hopes of playing in the NFL.(Derick Malone Jr)
2. A un-drafted free-agent who’s been signed and released from several teams, still hoping for a contract. (Lavasier Tuinei)
3. A rookie finishing his first season in the NFL (Kenjon Barner)
4. A seven year veteran in the NFL (Jonathan Stewart)
5. And finally a retired Super Bowl champion. (Patrick Johnson)
My goal is to tell their stories from a new lenses. This is not just another football story, it’s the truth behind how they create their future, and manifested their dream.  But most importantly it is proof that “regular people” can use the same tools (visualization, prayer/meditation, mantras, belief, and hustle) to create the life of their dreams, the same way these athletes have. I have taken these lessons, and as a single mom in my 30’s applied them to change my life and live my dream.  You can too.  These guys are not “super-human,” they simply apply a common formula to achieve success.  And one I’ve been sharing on this blog for the past few years, and coach in my Success Coaching practice.  I want to motivate and inspire you to apply these same methods to live your dream. The stories are fresh, personal, with a new perspective, and FINALLY something positive about football players!

I have chronicled five different athletes in five different stages of the same dream, to show you that this is a life long journey and that success is not achieved overnight. Also to show you that even successful people, who’ve lived their “dream,” also face defeat and seemingly insurmountable adversity. It’s what they do to overcome this adversity, that makes them great, and their stories so inspiring.

The always smiling Kenjon Barner

The amazing thing you’ll learn is that all these athletes have a similar philosophy about life and success, even though their lives and backgrounds are very  different.  This is further proof to me that this mindset is self-created. Not something “special people” are born with.  Which is great news for the rest of us! We can create it too. These are some of the athletes who’ve helped shape my beliefs and given me motivation to never settle for anything less than my dream. Through the years we’ve learned a great deal from each other as we’ve watched the other apply the tools for success to achieve our own set of dreams. I am blessed to call these guys friends and even more grateful to them for sharing their inspiring stories with you.

I know we can learn so much from their successes and struggles, that we can directly apply into our own lives. And hopefully it will help you to see athletes in a positive light. I have immense respect for each of these guys and I have a feeling whether you’re a football fan or not you will see the game and players in a whole new light, and hopefully have some amazing aha moments along the way.


The relentless Lavasier Tuinei


Series Schedule: 


Week #1: Derrick Malone Jr. Current linebacker from Oregon.
The life of a college player with his eye on the NFL draft day.

Week #2: Lavasier Tuinei, former Oregon Wide Receiver and current NFL free agent. 
What do you do when your dream is taking longer than you thought it would? What keeps you from giving up? 

Week #3: Kenjon Barner, former Oregon star Running Back and current Carolina Panther (NFL contract, just completed his rookie season.) 
What is it like to achieve your ultimate dream and go from a star to a rookie. How did it change him? What is his next big dream?

Week #4: Jonathan Stewart, former Oregon star Running Back and current starting Carolina Panther running back. League veteran. . How do you keep your focus, drive and stay grounded when you’ve achieved your Ultimate Dream? This stage destroys so many, is it “be careful what you wish for?”

Week #4: Patrick Johnson, Retired NFL star for the Baltimore Ravens.
How do you transition from “living your dream” to a whole new life? What is your dream now? How have you been able to achieve it. Do the same rules still apply? 

Get ready! It’s gonna be fun. Please share their stories in your networks and comment on their posts, help spread positive energy and encourage their dreams.

Patrick Johnson, making plays for the Ravens.

Motivation & Inspiration Sports

Derrick Malone Jr: Inside the Mind of an Athlete

*This is the first story in a 5 part series titled “Inside the Mind of an Athlete“. Check the link to learn more about the series and see who else will be featured in upcoming articles. 

I chose to feature Derrick as Part 1 of this series because I’ve always chosen to associate myself with players who have a similar positive mindset. Ones that are focused on their goals, determined to stay grounded through the process of fame and success, and who are constantly looking for ways to grow and become better.

Derrick is known for his contagious smile and upbeat personality

Derrick Malone Jr. embodies these qualities. As the star starting linebacker for the Oregon Ducks Derrick has always impressed me with his positive attitude, uplifting social media posts, and general demeanor, so I was thrilled when he agreed to let me interview him for this piece. I wanted to know if what I’ve learned so far about the law of attraction and the connection I’ve made with it and athletes was true for him as well. I wanted to see if he lives his life by these principles without even realizing it. I have to say I got goosebumps with many of his answers, seeing once again how the simple formula Hustle.Believe.Receive. really does apply.

Malone grew up in the Southern California town of Culton, a community known for turning out pristine football athletes from it’s high school. As a kid, Derrick remembers how football was always part of his life from a very young age, even though he didn’t formally start playing until the 8th grade. But it was always there, his father Malone Sr. was an excellent running back in high school and had dreams of his son playing quarterback. But, Derrick was more interested in baseball and basketball, even though he spent every evening playing football at the park with his friends, or at recess or before and after class, he still wasn’t sure it was what he wanted to do. It wasn’t until his breakout game playing safety his junior year of high school, that he realized, maybe he was actually pretty good at football, as the college recruiters began circling like flies. It was then that he finally began to see what his family and friends had known for some time, that he had a gift and that gift could change his life.

When I asked Derrick where his confidence comes from today as a red-shirt Senior and a key part of Oregon’s defense, he says without hesitation; my family. Growing up our home was full of love. My mom, dad and grandmother believed in me to the fullest. They instilled that confidence in me, told me to never settle, and to always expect more, that I “deserved it.” That core foundation helped Derrick get to the place he is at today, one where he truly believes in his ability, the future and his ultimate dream.

Derrick’s first “impossible dream” was to play football for the University of Oregon. It had always been his top choice for colleges, and when they were the first to show interest in him, and ultimately the one he accepted a scholarship from it was the realization of his first ultimate dream. It was life on a grand scale, ESPN highlights, featured games on Saturday afternoons. It was more than most young players could ever dream of; the fulfillment of his big dream, being part of one of the top football programs in the country.
So I had to ask the Oregon Senior…

Sarah:  What is your ultimate dream now?
Derrick: “To get drafted into the NFL.”

Sarah: What makes that moment your ultimate dream?
DerrickBecause it makes everything you’ve done along the way, all the sacrifice, all the things you miss out on, worth it.  It’s the payoff. There are a lot of limitations that come with the responsibility of being an athlete, my life is not like the life of a ‘normal’ college student, there are sacrifices, and struggles that come with the glory moments. It’s the proof that all those little things really meant something. It’s the reward for putting in the work to  graduate with two majors, and the moment your family can be so proud of you.  It’s an opportunity for me to be a role model to the younger generation and make an impact on others and help change their lives. This is what we work for. That validation, that reward.

Sarah: Do you ever visualize that day? Imagine what it would be like?
Derrick: Of Course! Every day. It’s a lifelong thing. I close my eyes and visualize, I constantly daydream about it, all day every day. It’s a way of life. It’s been like that since I was a kid, I’ve always been able to make a movie in my head and focus on it. Football is a way of life, it’s who I am, it’s in my blood, it’s my family, my belief, it’s more than a game. It’s all day every day working towards that goal.
Sarah: When did you realize this was your ultimate dream?
Derrick: Honestly not until I got to college, probably my sophomore year. Even though my family always believed in me and told me I was the greatest, I don’t think I really believed it. In a lot of ways I think that’s what’s kept me grounded, always wanting to work harder and be better. But my sophomore year my coaches were the ones who really instilled that dream in me. They told us every day that making it to the league should be our goal, that we should work every day for it and that it was possible. I knew the odds where small, but I wanted to be part of those small odds. And over time I began to really believe it.

Sarah: Do you believe you will be drafted into the NFL?
Derrick: Absolutely. Everyday I get better. I’m better this year than last year, and way better than I was in high school. If I can improve like that with work and dedication then there is no reason I can’t continue to improve and make it to the league. It’s a progression and a process, it’s not overnight, but I know it’s possible if I stay focused and keep working. Anything is possible!

Sarah: Have you ever wanted to quit or give up?

Derrick: No. Never. I never quit, it’s not in my nature.
Sarah: What do you do to motivate yourself when you have a bad day? 
Derrick: When I need motivation all I have to do is call my mom. I hear the pride she has in me, and it makes me smile, and it just makes me want to make her even more proud. That is why I do this. And I do it for my Aunt who passed when I was in high school. She was my biggest fan, she believed in me and was so proud of me. I dedicated my senior season to her in high school. I wish she could have watched me play at Oregon. Every day that I want to quit I play for her. Those moments when you wanna give up you remember why you’re doing it and it keeps you going. You think about the moment you’re working for and helping your family and you just get back to work.

Sarah: What is one moment you’ve lived out that felt like standing in the middle of your dream?
Derrick: Running out the tunnel to play in the Rose Bowl. I had watched it as a kid at my grandma’s house and remember thinking those players looked so big, and it seemed so impossible, and then I lived it. Being with my family and sharing that experience with them, and holding the trophy after we won, it was the happiest moment of my life. A dream come true.  

Derrick holding the Rose Bowl trophy

Sarah: What’s your daily hustle? 
Derrick: Win the day (Oregon’s mantra). It’s tatted on my arm, and it’s what every day is about for me. Just go out and no mater what I’m doing, practice, a game, training, eating right, or choosing not to go out, all of that is my hustle. It’s all part of just winning today.  

Sarah: So what’s your dream once you are drafted?
Derrick: To renovate my high school locker room and weight room. I want to make my school, family and community proud. I want to give back. 

Derrick’s motto WTD (Win The Day) Tattoo, a constant reminder of his hustle.

Like I said, I got chills listening to Derrick talk about how he practices the exact same things I’ve been teaching on this blog and in my coaching classes. He’s applied the formula (without even realizing it) and has achieved the same results. He’s drawn on coaches and family to help him build his belief when he needed it, and over time it became his reality. I also love how his dream grew and changed over time. How at each stage he began to dream bigger, once his confidence and belief grew. And, of course I LOVED the fact that visualization is a constant in his life, not even intentional at this point, just automatic. And, as we know there are no results without the hustle. I loved how Derrick takes that just one day at a time, and when he wants to get down on himself he looks back and sees how far he has come. But one of the most important things he said is something I hope each of you take away from this, it’s a process. It’s a life long journey. It’s not something you do to get to a goal, it’s who you are. It’s what you believe in, what you eat, live and breathe. You’ve got to be committed to making this your new life plan if you want to see results.

Thanks Derrick for inspiring us and reinforcing our belief that anything is possible!

About Derrick:
Derrick Malone Jr is a journalism and advertising major at the University of Oregon and a starting member of the Duck football team. He is also an up and coming writer and poet, sharing his positivity and passion. Be sure to check out his blog: I am Poetic Soul and follow his twitter to learn more about him, and watch his dreams unfold. 


Be sure to read the other stories in this series:
Week #1: Derrick Malone Jr -Current Oregon Linebacker
Week #2: Lavasier Tuinei -NFL Un-drafted Free Agent
Week #3: Kenjon Barner -NFL running back Panthers
Week #4: Jonathan Stewart -NFL running back Panthers
Week #5: Patrick Johnson -NFL retired WR and Super Bowl Champion


Be sure to read Derrick’s inspiring true story in my new book #HustleBelieveReceive 

Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Single Mom Life Vision Boards

Vision Board Magic.

Please share this video with your social networks… together we can inspire and motivate the world! Anything really is possible for anyone.


Sarah Centrella is the author of the book Hustle Believe Receive which teaches you how to apply the #HBRMethod to change your life and live your dream.

Parenting Single Mom Life Sports

Football and Parenting.

Football and Parenting.

Parenting is the single hardest most thankless job on earth. There are days when you feel like you’re winning, on some microscopic level. And God bless the days, few and far between, when you feel like you are really nailing it.  I don’t know about you, so I’ll only speak for me here, but the majority of the days I feel like I’m barley keeping my head above water. I feel like I’m three steps behind, always running ragged poking and prodding, scurrying, and scolding, grabbing more things then my arms were ever intended to carry.  Cleaning up more then seems humanly possible.  Doing more loads of wash then seems conceivable with the amount of clothes we have, and constantly feeding or buying food.

There’s always something major I’m pushing off the front burner onto an invisible back one. The list of things to do, stopped being written down years ago because when I see it I instantly want to cry.  Just looking at it overwhelms me. There’s always someone who needs a dentist visit, or to sign up for a sport or help with their homework.  Or a car that need’s fixing, or a dog that needs fixing. And no matter what I accomplish off that list it never seems to get smaller.  There is never any satisfaction when the items finally get crossed off either.  Only guilt because it took so long, or because the items that kept getting pushed off, got urgent at the wrong time.

When you’re a single parent there is no one to blame but you.  No one to bitch at for not pulling their weight.  No one to thank for giving you a break on a day when you were at your breaking point.  No one to appreciate the work you put in, or say that the outcomes are showing promise.  Or that you don’t totally suck. No one.

Taking my 8 year old son to Oregon Duck games #singlemom #thestruggle
Duck game 2010

And the worst part is that when the absent parent does a tiny gesture, to show that they remotely care, the child sees them as a god.  And you can’t help but think, even though you shouldn’t, that there is no justice in this world. That all you’ve done all a long, goes unappreciated and unnoticed. That their one minimal gesture outshines all the days and nights you were there, putting in the work and the love, when they were no where to be found. It feels like a knife in your heart. Even though it shouldn’t, it just does. But you close your mouth, and you smile, and you show enthusiasm, because that is your job.

Today my son dressed in his first ever football uniform, ready for practice. He looked so handsome. His jersey is purple and black just like the Raven’s, and I told him so.  And for the first time ever, he looked at me and said, “what if I don’t like them any more? What if I like my dad’s team?” And what came out of my mouth was “you can like any team you want, son.”

But what fumed in my head was…

When your dad left, so did the opportunity for you to go in the backyard and play catch. Or learn how to throw a football.  And so when we lived in a 700 square foot apartment I went out and got you a football, and even though I didn’t really like or know anything about it, I picked up  the ball and threw it to you every night.  

And before long you were running down the hall, and into the kitchen to catch passes. Diving on the carpet to grab the ball before it went through the window. We’d have a football game on, and we’d watch it together. You were just six years old, but we’d study the plays and try to act them out.  And then we went to Oregon games together, and I showed you LIVE how those players where running the plays we watched on TV.  And we’d look for positions we recognized and memorized the players names, and then we’d go home and practice, every night. And when one of those Oregon players became a Raven we started watching the NFL and Raven games.  And we perfected our passes, and practiced jumping and diving catches, and blocks and screens. 

Sarah Centrella Oregon Ducks game with Kanne
Our first Oregon Duck game in 2009

And when we moved to a bigger house, our game took over the whole place. And your arm got so good, and you could catch anything I threw to you.  And always, the Raven game was on.  On the radio or on TV. And you knew all the players names and all their positions.

And then one day the unthinkable happened and we got to go to a Raven’s home game 3,000 miles away. But that’s not all, you got your biggest wish, you met the players, toured the locker room and stood on the sidelines… every little boys dream. 

And then we moved to an even bigger house, one with a yard.  And when the rain stopped we’d play outside. You are bigger now so you can run and catch those long spiral’s, and you can even throw ones I can’t catch anymore. But if it poured rain outside, we’d still play in the house until we were both worn out and short of breath. And the girls would try to play, try to steel the ball from you. And the Raven’s game would be on.  And then our team did the impossible, they went to the Super Bowl. And you sat on the couch next to me in all your Raven’s gear, and we eat chicken wings while the girls played Barbies upstairs.

Raven's game with my son
Our first Raven’s game 2011

And today, you put on your pads and uniform for the first time in your life, and you looked like a real football player.  A real grown little man, and you were in our teams colors. And it took three weeks of me pleading with the coaches to get you added to their already full team after we moved, and extra budgeting financially, paying bills late to make sure I could cover the registration fee. And all the stress of figuring out how I’d juggle the huge time commitment of games and practice… but we did it.  You are a real football player, after all these years. And you look just like a Raven, my son. It’s the start of your real life football career the day you’ve been waiting for.

I wanted to scream…...so how in the world could you say that none of that mattered? 

That’s what I really wanted to say.  But he’s ten years old, and I don’t have that right. And logically I know it’s probably not what he meant.  I know all the logical things that we know as parents. But it doesn’t take the sting out of moments like today.  It doesn’t prevent you from feeling like you just totally failed as a parent. And it doesn’t stop that instant burn behind your eyes and in your throat, or the urge to wish you could explain.

But you put a smile on, pat them on the back and say; Honey you’re a big boy, you can cheer for any team you like.  I’ll be right over there watching you practice, and your snacks will be waiting.  And that’s what mommies do.

our first Oregon football game Sept 2009
Sarah Centrella with son Oregon Ducks
Oregon game 2010


Sarah Centrella at Ravens game
Raven’s field pre-game 2011


Kanen Rossi Ravens
Watchin the Super Bowl together 2013


Kanen Rossi
Wearing his first ever team jersey, ready for practice. 2013


Sarah Centrella is the author of the book Hustle Believe Receive which teaches you how to apply the #HBRMethod to change your life and live your dream.

Follow on social media: Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat | Pinterest | YouTube |Periscope @sarahcentrella

Motivation & Inspiration Sports

2012 Rose Bowl Champs, My Oregon Ducks Teach a Lesson.

2012 Champion Derrick Malone Jr.

So those of you who know me, personally or via Facebook or Twitter know what a crazy Oregon Duck fan I am, and if you follow collage sports at all then you may of heard that last night we WON THE ROSE BOWL!!!

Ok ok, I wont post a sports review of the Rose Bowl…to me there was something almost more interesting then just the game going on behind the scenes. Something that I’ve been studying the past year or so in working with athletes, I got to see first hand and it was amazing.

I have believed for a while now that the mindset of an athlete is very unique from the average person, but similar to other athletes and successful people, and is one that breaks down simply enough that the average person can follow the formula to find success. This may or may not be revolutionary, I have no clue. But for me it is, it has been the key to help me unlock The Law of Attraction in a very simple and down to earth way. A way that I could not find in other teachings or opinions. So I have set out to apply my own little concoction of The Law of Attraction Urban Style, influenced by the athletes I know and have worked with.

Our lightening fast #6 DeAnthony Thomas

It’s so simple, that’s why I love it so much. 

1. The have a dream. A detailed vision of what their success will look and feel like, to the point that they taste it every day. The moment they walk on the field at the bowl game ect..

2. They have unwavering faith and total confidence in the outcome. They believe completely that if they follow the formula of working and training hard, rising to challenges and over coming obstacles that the outcome will be there. They work everyday with that end goal in mind.

3. They feed themselves the story of their imagined success over and over to a point where it’s absolutely what they believe. When they have a bad day/game they go back and work harder, they don’t sit down and destroy themselves with negative self talk, they do the opposite.

4. They LIVE it. The above formula results in the moment they have waited for, the one where they have turned the imagined into their reality.

That’s really it. They Dream it, Believe it, Hustle for it, then Live it.
It’s so absolute, no room for what if, or maybe or I’m not good enough. It just is what it is. And I love that. If you take that same formula, you can apply it to every aspect of your life, but especially success and you will get the same results.

So yesterday it was kinda awesome to see my friends who play for the Oregon team posting on facebook or texting the exact things that I’ve been trying to convey on my blog the last year or so, to see it live was amazing. It’s proof to me that though these young guys have probably no idea what The Law of Attraction is or what my theory’s are on it, they are living it and proving to me and anyone else who’s paying attention that the formula is universal and can be adapted by anyone. It’s the formula I’ve used to go from a broke stay at home mom with nothing, to a software consulting executive living my imagined life. It really is simple, and achievable for anyone.

Here are just a few of the amazing Facebook status updates and Tweets from some of the players, I wont name them but you can look at my twitter for retweets to see some of them.

up, I remember watching the Rose Bowl parade with my grandma and
brother.. Then watch the game with my friends, admiring the people on
the field. Hard Work pays off, dreams come true. Go Ducks!”Derrick Malone Jr. Tweeted before the game.
(this is The Law of Attraction at it’s best!)

“I been waiting my whole life for this to happen and its real!!!” Defense back -right after the game.

Ever since I was little I’ve always had that hunger to be the GREATEST; now that I got that go-ahead from the man upstairs its time to get after I heal up. Spring Ball you will see a bigger , stronger, faster camp; complete football player” -Oregon wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei posted after the game. (already looking a head to the next challenge, and willing to keep working for the next dream… I love this!)

“I have no words for this moment” Kenjon Barner tweeted.

Enough said….

Rose Bowl 2011 Champions!! Oregon’s QB Darron Thomas


Sarah Centrella is the author of the book Hustle Believe Receive which teaches you how to apply the #HBRMethod to change your life and live your dream.

Follow on social media: Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat | Pinterest | YouTube |Periscope @sarahcentrella

Motivation & Inspiration

Single Mom Living My Dream

Snorkeling in Maui with my son

Have you ever felt like you were on the brink of something? Like the brink of falling in love…those butterflies, that hope. The feeling that the world is yours all you need to do is roll outa bed, open the door to discover the rainbow has landed on your welcome mat.

I have felt like that for the past two years. Through the struggles, (and lord knows there have been MANY), and the highs, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I’m working towards one day opening the door to my rainbow.
Like, it’s crazy but I just know. I trust the struggle at this point. I have unwavering faith that the plan for my life at 36, is just now starting to come together. It’s such a great feeling! Honestly. It’s one that you are feeling now too, if not yet you will.Because it spreads.
It’s infectious, like the Macarena at a 90’s dance club.
And it’s comin’ for you.
It’s hope.
It’s the possibility that there are actually possibilities.

That feeling the past few months has been acute. Everyday something happens where I see the colors in the sky starting to form, where my heart skips a beat. It’s knowing for the FIRST time in my life that I have found my place, I’ve found my calling. There is some sorta crazy peace and unstoppable joy that comes when you are doing what you love to do. It’s a level of completeness that I don’t think I’ve ever known.

It’s hard to put into words, how freaking stressed out I was prior to 3 years ago (even prior to a year ago). It eat at me always. Financial issues in particular. When I was married it seemed there was nothing my ex and I could do to get ahead. We were always broke. Not in the “I’m broke I can’t go to Aruba” since, but in the “return cans for deposit so we can buy gas” sense! The retarded part of it was to look at us, we seemed like we were doing pretty well. Drove a nice car, had nice things, lived in a nice house, had good jobs all of that. But what no one knew is we were NOT making it. And anyone who’s ever struggled with financial issues knows it is the start, or root to the rest of your life headed down the crapper. It was one bad thing coming our way after another. A never-ending supply of 90 mph curve balls, some we ducked but most hit us in the face. The stress eat me alive, night and day.

Kanen and I at the White House

I remember one night laying in bed several years ago, and thinking…actually thinking…it was more then I could take. To be in a hole that black for that long, joy simply can’t survive. Laughter dies. Smiles fade. Weight finds your ass (and the rest of your body).

“Hope, I just need a ray of that” as Eminem would say. But I didn’t even have the energy for hope. That was way more work than I was interested in. I didn’t know what the word meant, or how to begin.

I can’t tell you how many times our cupboards ran bare. Our utilities were turned off. Our phones disconnected. Our cars boomeranged. I was always learning how to creatively survive, for most of my entire life. It was a cycle I’d come to expect was normal, and the best I could hope for.
What dreams?
This was reality and sucking wind was what I was accustomed to.

Since being on my own I have still had many of those struggles. Especially early on trying to get back on my feet. It’s been very difficult and times are always tight. But as I reflect back on my reality then vs now…the difference is as clear as night and day.

I learned how to be grateful for what I had. I stopped wanting what I couldn’t afford, and started living in the moment and showing gratitude for the littlest things. My motto became “If you’re not grateful for what you’ve got, you wont get more to be grateful for”. All the homes we once owned, the new cars we used to drive, I don’t think I was EVER grateful for those, I was too stressed trying to figure out how I’d make the payments! But when I lost it all and moved into that tiny shitty 750 sq ft 2 bedroom apartment, I was sooooo grateful. I was so happy to have it. Have a place I could afford and be able to have my babies with me, nothing else mattered. My pride had died a log time ago, so who cared?

That’s when my life began to change.

I think of all the things that have shown up in my life the past 2 years. Things I could NEVER afford, most of them there is no price tag for those experiences regardless. Yet they have come to me, and when they do, I allow myself to be ridiculously excited and cherish the moment.

On ESPN sitting court side for UCLA game

Where once my cupboards were bare, now I’ve learned how to Super Coupon and have a store in my basement that enables to share, and bless my friends and family. I’m teaching other single mom’s how to do the same so they can better provide for their families.

Where once I wasn’t able to even entertain the idea of a vacation, now I’ve taken two major ones with almost no out-of-pocket expense. Last year I took my son to Maui Hawaii on air miles I had earned from work, and stayed at little local B&B’s for $40 a night, we had an amazing time and did it on basically zero budget.

This year I just booked our dream trip! In October we are going to watch a Raven’s NFL home game! My son’s a huge fan and we began talking about it, and put it on our Vision Board over a year ago.

This trip is The Law of Attraction at it’s best:

On the Field at Ravens Stadium
  1. I have NEVER seen a free airline flight for 25,000 miles. I’ve checked many times believe me, and to fly 50 feet it’s more then 25,000 miles! I had 51,000 miles saved up. When I started looking for flights I actually found 2 seats from Oregon to Baltimore (cross-country, round-trip) for 25,000 miles each! (I promise you I have NEVER seen a flight for that low of miles before), I booked them at a total cost of $70.
  2. About 5 months ago I met and became great friends with a former player for the Ravens who generously offered that if we ever went to Baltimore he would be happy to provide the game day hook-up…zero dollars (mind you we had put the pic on our board over 6 months before I met him).
  3. In the past 2 years I have planned countless trips to DC with work for various work events, and for whatever reason they have always fallen through at the last minute. I’ve wanted to go there for at least 15 years, and have had a picture of the White House on my board for well over a year… We will be spending all day Saturday in Washington DC, and snappin pics of us in front of the White House!

This is a great example of living a life where ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. It’s not up to me, or you to determine what is or is not possible in our lives. It’s up to us to have a dream. A vision of what we want to experience and accomplish in life, and start moving in that direction. The magic comes on it’s own…it finds you like the tooth fairy; you wake up in the morning after a loss to find the treasure.

Stop building a box to live in.
Take down the walls and walk out your front door…
The rainbow has been waiting.

“You and I know what it’s like to be kicked down, forced to fight. But tonight we’re alright, so hold up your light let it shine, shine shine. This one is for you and me, living out our dream. We are right were we should be. With my arms held high, I open my eyes and now all I wanna see, is a sky full of lighters.” 
-Lighters, Eminem (click to listen, it’s amazing!)


Sarah Centrella is the author of the book Hustle Believe Receive which teaches you how to apply the #HBRMethod to change your life and live your dream.

Follow on social media: Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat | Pinterest | YouTube |Periscope @sarahcentrella

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