George: According to several accounts, you've quit the Gannon basketball team one game into your third season. In this letter, I'm not going to beg you to come back. I'm just going to tell you what you may be setting yourself up for.
I'm writing this message not so much as a Gannon fan but as a hiring manager. I've been in hiring and personnel management for nearly 20 years, the last several as the president/general manager at a medium-sized national publishing company. In that capacity, I've conducted or supervised job interviews for several hundred candidates and a hired a few dozen of them. Based on our company's success, I've even been asked to speak at conferences and hosted webinars about hiring and management best practices. I mention all that so you know I'm not just some yahoo spouting off; I've got real world experience at this.
In a couple years you'll be applying for jobs and, if you do indeed quit the team in middle of a season, someone's going to ask you about it. And what are you going to say? No matter what the details, here's what the hiring manager will hear from you: "I disagreed with something, so I took the easy way out and quit, leaving my teammates and coaches in a predicament. I stuck with the team when the times were good, but when the going got tough, I bailed."
Details aside, that will be the basic story the hiring manager is left with, no matter what details you provide. So, as a hiring manager, what will I be thinking? When this job gets hard, there's a good chance George will quit on me and quit on his teammates. That's not a certainty, but as a hiring manager who's paid to predict your future behavior, that's a reasonable conclusion to make based on your past behavior.
And don't think that future hiring managers won't find out about you leaving the team. I ask every candidate coming out of college what activities they were involved in and then press for as many details as I can. With you being 6-foot-3, someone's going to assume that you played ball, and they'll find out that you jumped ship if they ask enough questions.
Three of my co-workers played college basketball, and it's no coincidence they're among the most successful in their field. Two of these guys played for Jerry Slocum (Cory Coleman at Gannon and Lucas Marsh at Geneva) and one played for Karl Fogel at Mercyhurst (Dave Lanahan). You might not know those coaches, but let's just say they weren't exactly sunshine and lollipops. (For example, this is a photo of Slocum smiling.) Did Cory, Lucas, and Dave endure adversity during their college hoops days? Absolutely -- tons of it. But did these guys quit? No.
Here's one more example of someone who stuck it out and how it paid off for them. Gee Blanks was a senior teammate of mine at Gannon when new coach Bob Dukiet was hired. For a period in the preseason and early season, I think Gee got thrown out of practice every other day. And as far as playing time, he got only spot minutes despite being an athletic and tenacious defender. A few weeks into the season, his best friend (Sly Simpkins) quit the team. And then for the second semester, Gee was declared academically ineligible. Time to pack up and head home, right? Nope. Gee completed makeup work, got himself eligible again, and a was a key contributor and tremendous teammate as we advanced to the Elite Eight. What's Gee doing today? He's a respected and award-winning executive at GECAC here in Erie. The habits he developed in college determined where he is today.
Let me say that again: The habits he developed in college determined where he is today.
George, if you can swallow your pride, return to Erie, and ask your coaches and teammates for forgiveness, these past few days will be a footnote in your life. A prospective employer won't ever hear about it unless you tell him what happened. Heck, it could even turn out to be a positive story about a lesson you learned. Personally as a hiring manager, I'd be impressed that you took responsibility for your mistake and made amends.
If you don't come back to the team, at least you now know what you might be getting yourself into down the road. Life is a series of choices. Choose wisely.