Our first "Dear Younger Me" letter comes from Blake Froistad, a 2011 graduate of Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Blake was a part of that school's first four-year graduating class, and contributed to two football state champions and a final four baseball team. More importantly and unbeknownst to many of his teammates and coaches, Blake would go to the school's stadium and field and pray over the programs consistently throughout his high school days. His relationship with Christ guides everything he does and allows him to "run his race." Dear Younger Blake,
You just set foot on the campus of Colorado University-Boulder with your best friend at your side...and dang if you both aren't scared to death. You're gonna hear, see and smell things in that town you never thought possible, and although you're less than an hour from home, it'll feel a world away. You're gonna meet some pretty awesome people in this place so keep your head up and don't be afraid to meet people who see the world a little different than you.
Your first day on campus you're gonna get that call you've been waiting for all of your 18 years. It's gonna be coach and he's gonna tell you they need you at practice that afternoon. Your heart’s gonna race and you'll remember all those Saturdays watching the Buffs play growing up and be filled with excitement that you finally get to join the ranks and take the field with Ralphie on Saturday. You're gonna get your own locker, shoes, shorts, everything...it will be an incredible feeling to walk in that locker room for the first time as a player. Your dream is becoming a reality right before your eyes...
Blake, I wish I didn't have to write this, and I know it's gonna break you, but it's a chapter in your life that you're not gonna be able to write. The locker, the Nike gear, the jersey...the dream - you're gonna give it all back. You see, the concussions you sustained in high school ultimately win out. It's a reality of the game that you'll face all too soon, Blake. You'll meet with Coach Kennedy (the same Bobby Kennedy that coached University of Texas greats like Jordan Shipley, Quan Cosby, and Limas Sweed…pretty awesome) and you'll thank him for the opportunity, but tell him you need to hang it up. It'll be a long dark walk back to your dorm by yourself in the rain. But don't be too tough and let those tears roll. Nobody will see, I promise. After all, breaking up with your first love isn't easy. At this point, the doubts will start to hit, questioning if you're a quitter and not finishing. You'll think maybe you’d be fine. But no doctor or trainer knows how you truly feel and you'll know you aren't 100% anymore. Sitting here writing to you at 24 and healthy, I can't thank you enough for your courage to quit football. Over the next few years concussions will become an epidemic across all sports as data is released to the public by the NFL about the debilitating effects of concussions on your brain and mental health. High school, college and NFL players will all begin to hang it up at younger ages and it'll be the most controversial topic in sports. Your story won't be in the limelight, or on the ESPN ticker, but it's gonna matter, Blake. You'll wonder why you had to be done so early, why most of your high school teammates are playing for major programs on Saturday and you're sitting on the couch. Maybe instead of beating yourself up with this question, treat it like baseball and "change your approach." Be thankful for the time you had across all sports. The successes and failures alike. Most of all, be especially grateful for the people you met because of athletics...some of them will even go on to the Olympics, the League, and be a Heisman candidate.
The rest of your time in Boulder will be tough. You won't really fit in with the party scene and have a lot of time and nowhere to invest it. Your parents will move 1000 miles away (988 to be exact)and all you'll be left with is six boxes in the back of your truck containing everything from your state rings, some model cars and a Jeff Gordon poster. Everything you knew packed up into six simple boxes. This is gonna be tough too Blake and you'll end your freshman year of college the way you started it: scared and confused. You'll pack up your dorm, hug your friends goodbye, and drive 1000 miles south to a town you've never been to called Boerne, Texas. In the back of your mind you'll know you won't be returning to Boulder again in the fall.
Two things, Blake: 1) this isn't permanent 2) it's gonna be pretty dang hot. I tell you these things because wow it's hot down there, just roll with it. But most importantly Blake, this isn't permanent. You're gonna have some really dark days over the next six months. I wish I could fast forward this part, but you need to go through it and I can tell you it'll be a critical time in your relationship with your Heavenly Father. You won't make friends, have a job, or a car (oh, that's another thing, the truck you love...it gets totaled...dad's okay though and his new one is pretty sweet) But it's a time where it's just you and the Lord alone in the wilderness. You'll have doubts, you'll pour over His Word and cry out to him in anger and honestly...despair. Just remember, it isn't permanent. Be ready Blake, your number is about to be called. You'll have to be there for your sisters in times of deep need in their lives. In January you pack up your FJ (the second love of your life) and go back north to Colorado with your sister to help her recover from another knee surgery. You'll be almost crippled with fear with what to do next in life and what on earth God is doing, but it's ok Blake, just keep your foot on the gas. But take heed, you're driving into the perfect storm. You're gonna live in a two-bedroom apartment with two of your sisters and it's gonna be tough (do you see a theme here). You'll get a sweet job coaching baseball and working at a ballpark, but it's gonna be a grind putting in 80 hour weeks and you'll know you need to go back to college. When you coach that 13-year-old baseball team, dang you do well. You'll be in way over your head but you'll pour your heart out into those boys Blake, (Coach Blake) and the record doesn't show it, but you'll impact them more than you know, and point them towards Christ, which is what matters most.
North again: Fort Collins. At this point you're wound pretty tight. You worked 80 hour weeks, lived in an overcrowded apartment and managed a group of 13 young men and all their parents. You just turned 21 and honestly Blake...cut loose. You've spent your whole life being there for people, doing the right thing and staying out of trouble. You're gonna have a lot of fun here with the boys and have some hilarious nights. Be careful though, always know where the line is. In the midst of all that fun up at CSU you'll begin to miss your family. Although you enjoy CSU you're gonna have a deeper longing in your heart to get back to Texas and finish out at a school that you're really proud of. You'll get in to some schools in the south, but there's one in particular that you never even thought would be the one...TCU.
Cowtown, by way of Littleton, Colorado. You're gonna be living it up in Denver that summer working at Audi driving some awesome cars, but in the back of your mind you're worried because you haven't heard back from TCU. On a hot day in late July your mom will text you (maybe tell mom and dad that you applied to TCU so they don't get confused when they open the acceptance letter). You'll be excited, but then worried...it's expensive, it's another transfer, you don't know many people and...we'll it's gonna be hot again. Let God have those thoughts and just buckle up, and again keep your foot on the gas. In the matter of one week you'll sign a lease with some awesome people who will become lifelong friends, register for classes and move to Fort Worth the night before they start. The Saturday football traditions, the trucks, the BBQ, the cowboy boots...it's all here and man it's awesome. The coolest part is, you did this. You got out of your comfort zone and you did this. Enjoy it. You're gonna want to rush to finish and graduate when all your friends are starting careers, but like coach said at CU, "just run YOUR race, Blake." It's a journey.
I wish I could tell you that's it, happily ever after, and I'll see you in the mirror when you're a grown man. It gets tough again here, too. Your family is about to fall on some hard times. I can't tell you what, but you'll know when you get the phone calls. Just know not to panic. Just keep going, know that God is good, not because everything is going good, but He's writing an incredible story through you. Your family will be okay, and they will all grow close to Christ and each other through all these trials. You'll have a semester from hell working 40 hours taking difficult classes, you'll text your mom "I'm dropping out" but you make it Blake...and oh the places you're about to go. You'll spend a summer on the coast in California working for one of your favorite automakers and meeting awesome people. You'll watch a sunset from a truck bed with your dad and sister in your favorite place in the world: the Lamar Valley. You'll venture through Arches, Canyonlands, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park all within six months. You'll take a back road and get some mud on the tires with your cousin, Jack, in the Colorado Rockies. You'll catch Eric Church live at Red Rocks with the boys and that isn't even the best part. The best thing in the last six years: you're gonna cry your eyes out watching your sister, Sydney, walk down aisle on a perfect fall day in Colorado, surrounded by those you love most. Remember Drew from Boulder? That's the dude, total bro...even though he's a Seahawks fan.
Well, that's about it, I have some tests to study for, but I'm almost there. I'd love to tell you more but I'll save some surprises. Take it easy on the Broncos, they're gonna make you happy soon I promise. I wish I could say I have a beard, a Ford Raptor, a girlfriend, a husky, and my name in the Colorado football record books. The husky and Raptor are coming soon, (the girlfriend, ehhh check back later) But what I do have is a tough Toyota with some good stories to go along with it, a family who has my back, a healthy brain (I think), and a Lord that is still here and still good through it all. Keep going Blake, try to worry less, have a few less whiskey cokes and never be too busy to sit down and have a beer with a friend. Be an inspiration to people. Although you're quiet, your presence goes further than you know. Always stay true to the verse you have written on your back: "be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." You're gonna need it."
Alive and well at 24, -Me