What does a man do when he chases and achieves his lifetime goal of being a professional athlete? He gives back in the areas that had the biggest impact on his life. He models how others can chase their dreams.
For John Madsen, a tight end for the Oakland Raiders during his NFL career, it was helping high school athletes with training to prepare them for collegiate sports.
Small but Mighty
John had played football since he was ten. When John entered the weight room at Hunter High School in West Valley, Utah, for the first time, it hit him how small he was in comparison with the other guys. He was tall at six feet four inches, but he weighed about 160 lbs. He walked out and decided not to play football that year. He ended up not playing football during his time at high school.
After recognizing that he was smaller than the others, he asked his dad to train him. His dad did all he could for John, but after a while, he connected John with a strength trainer. That experience forever changed his life.
“I was training with my coach three nights a week. It kicked my ass, but every day I was there I realized that I was closing the gap on my friends because I was training harder than they were”, said Madsen.
Through exercise and nutrition, John put on 25 lbs. of muscle. This training not only improved John physically but more importantly, it prepared him mentally with increased confidence. While he didn’t play any football in high school, he ended up playing at Snow College and then at the University of Utah.
Do or Die
A highlight of his college career was during an away game with Texas A&M. John got called in to play during the second half when they were down 21-0. For the first ten or so plays, John messes up, he feels sick, he feels unprepared to play. As they go into the locker room for halftime, Urban goes straight up to John and says, “I don’t care if you’re scared or not, 100,000 people watching don’t care if you’re scared, your teammates don’t care if you’re scared. I don’t have anyone else to put in”.
It was do or die for John. In the 4th quarter, U of U was making a comeback. It was 4th & 15 and John catches a 40-yard pass. Everything started to slow down for John, he was in the flow state. With eight seconds left on the clock, with the ball on the 40-yard line, the play begins. John catches a pass in the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown and 97 yards completed. Even though they lost the game by 2 points, it helped launch John into his NFL career. John went on to play tight end for the Oakland Raiders, achieving his goal of being a professional athlete.
In 2010, when he was done with professional football, he opened a gym that was focused specifically on high school athletes wanting to participate in collegiate and professional sports. In this program, John had well over 100 male and female athletes go on to play college sports, with three of them being drafted into the NFL.
Recently, his business has shifted away from high school athletes, which demanded 10-12 hours a day, so he could spend more time with his wife and 17-month old daughter and enjoy a more balanced lifestyle. Additionally, John recognizes the mental strength and flow state that it takes to play professional sports and is dedicating more time to speaking and raising awareness of the mental aspect of sports. When the dream is reached, it’s valuable to reach down and help others with a similar dream.
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