Goals and dreams.
Almost everyone has them. Young athletes should definitely have them.
A lot of those athletes at the high school level are off and running toward achieving a wide range of goals and dreams.
Maybe it was earning one of the top spots on the varsity golf team.
Maybe it is becoming an all-conference or all-area soccer player.
Maybe it is rushing for 2,000 yards and earning a college scholarship.
Or maybe it is helping your team reach the state finals.
Some people might scoff at your goals or dreams and tell you they are unrealistic. You might be told it isn't possible and you are wasting your time.
But there are plenty of instances of athletes who didn't let the naysayers stop them.
One is Taylor Boggs, who overcame numerous obstacles to make the Bears' 53-man roster as a backup center.
Boggs was a JV player as a high school junior so there weren't exactly a lot of believers in his corner. Big-time college coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban weren't putting on the full-court recruiting press.
But he kept working to get bigger, stronger and better as he initially played at an NAIA school in Kentucky and then went to Division II Humboldt State in California.
Of course, Boggs wasn't drafted but he signed with the Jets as a free agent. Then in his first week of training camp he tore an ACL.
That didn't stop him. Neither did getting let go by the Buffalo Bills in their rookie minicamp.
When Boggs was signed by the Bears in April, a Chicago-area website didn't think he'd survive the first round of cuts. Now he'll be in uniform for Sunday's season opener.
Xan Barksdale, who is a college baseball assistant coach and the author of Catching 101: The Complete Guide for Baseball Catchers, has a similar story. Barksdale titled a recent blog post, "The Worst Teacher I Ever Had."
Barksdale was in a seventh-grade class when everyone was asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. His answer of becoming a professional baseball player was countered by his teacher saying "you will never play professional baseball," and the need to produce a more realistic choice.
But Barksdale said he used it as fuel to practice a little longer and train a little harder to prove his teacher was wrong. He ended up playing three years of minor-league baseball in the Atlanta Braves system before embarking on his career as a coach and catching guru.
Yes, the odds of playing professional sports are very long.
Winning an individual or team state championship might appear to be a long shot as well.
But there's no shame in taking your best shot at achieving those goals and dreams.
• Marty Maciaszek is a freelance columnist for the Daily Herald who can be reached at ">firstname.lastname@example.org