Exeleon Magazine

LaVar Arrington: From Self-reliance to Self-fulfillment

LaVar Arrington_Exeleon Magazine

Refining the attributes that it takes to be an outstanding athlete are also the qualities that it takes to be outstanding in business and in life. Be it in athletics, business, or other aspects of life, the spirit of the sportsman must include integrity, teambuilding, self-confidence, the ability to make and execute on a decision, as well as empathy, patience, and a recognition that, by empowering others, we are stronger and more effective as team members, leaders and individuals. These are the attributes which truly define LaVar Arrington. From his years as a champion on the field, to his commitment to empowering youth and promoting health and safety for athletes, LaVar epitomizes the ‘complete athlete’.

A former NFL star linebacker, LaVar Arrington remains steadfast about the need to incorporate service, ethics and mindfulness into his leadership roles. LaVar embraces the same attributes which made him an elite athlete, transferring them to his role as business leader, entrepreneur and mentor.

THE PRO-ATHLETE ENTREPRENEUR  

The attributes of an athlete, when embraced as the accelerator of our character, allow us to handle unforeseen hardships head-on, manage both successes and failures, as they make us wiser, kinder and more resilient in the face of adversity.

LaVar prides himself on being a man of service – a true ethical and altruistic leader. Prioritizing young athletes, LaVar takes the lessons he has learned through his career and uses those lessons to guide and mentor young athletes enabling their journey to be more enlightened and less trial and error than was his. However, even the most high-performing athletes need mentorship and guidance for life after sports, allowing them to have the mindset and skills necessary to be leaders, entrepreneurs and examples to future generations of athletes.

A complete athlete must be prepared for life on and off the field, physically, mentally and emotionally. With a vision towards empowering young athletes, LaVar uses his company, Complete Athlete, and his dynamic podcast, Up On Game, which he co-hosts with former NFL greats, TJ Houzmanzada and Plaxico Burress, to spotlight the importance of resiliency, self-confidence and behavioral and mindset development as the critical ingredients in building a complete athlete.

LaVar’s mission is threefold: to educate and empower athletes so that they can best navigate their lives on and off the field; to ensure that their interests are soundly and ethically represented while they play; and, to set them up for success so that they are prepared to take the next step at the conclusion of their sports careers. Using his Up On Game podcast, LaVar dedicates a great deal of air-time to discussing the challenges athletes face at all levels of their career, with all three co-hosts serving as examples of true elite athletes.

AN ALTRUISTIC MENTOR OF YOUTH

Through Up On Game, LaVar is launching a new initiative to impact young athletes, called ‘The 1- Million Kids Campaign’. This Campaign is a platform designed to give young athletes a collective virtual meeting place where they can interact with their peers, teammates, and athletes at all levels of their career; access specially designed personal and behavioral development learning modules; engage in physical interaction/workout components; and, enjoy gamification through a rewards incentivized mobile application.

“Especially during these disruptive times, like that which we are experiencing with COVID-19, is imperative that we give young athletes the tools, resources and resiliency to handle the unexpected challenges that life throws in their pathways. Whether is the disappointment of a not making a specific team, suffering an injury, or facing the transition to life after sport, we must prepare our young athletes to have the courage, strength, mental and physical discipline and determination to conquer their physical, mental and emotional challenges”, notes Arrington.

It just not just fame or reputation that drives the NFL veteran to nurture upcoming athletes. LaVar claims, “My wanting to be a positive influence does not have anything to do with me being a popular football player. Rather, it is driven by my desire to help young athletes to succeed by avoiding the hurdles that I faced, sharing the lessons I’ve learned and the experience and wisdom that I gained during my career on and off the field.”

Being a responsible steward of young talent is LaVar’s passion. He derives self-fulfillment by creating, mentoring, and strengthening outstanding athletes as well as individuals. His years as a college football legend, playing for Penn State University, and being selected #2 in the 2000 NFL draft, and ultimately going on to excel as one of the top linebackers in the NFL, LaVar Arrington has a first-hand understanding of the challenges and the difficult decisions that athletes are forced to make relative to their careers, the finances, opportunities that appear while they are playing, as well as the opportunities relative to their after-football career transition.

“As a former professional athlete, I am well positioned to advocate for the athlete, ensuring that their health – physical, mental and emotional, is a top priority, and that they are equipped with the resources to be able to navigate the challenges of sports and life. Through his company, Complete Athlete and his podcast, Up On Game, LaVar and his team are committed to shaping the future, one youth at a time.

GETTING ON THE TECH TRAIN

LaVar Arrington is pioneering the future of sports through technology, changing the way athletes build and refine their talents and skills – especially during this time of COVID, where athletes could not be in the physical presence of coaches and trainers. COVID has forced us to reimagine the way we interact with one another, and technology has undoubtedly become the nucleus of our personal engagement and connectivity.

Athletic training has been forced to pivot, forcing us to get creative with how we condition our athletes – physically and mentally. Through the Complete Athlete and our Up On Game 1-Million Kids Campaign, LaVar Arrington is using technology as the mechanism to engage youth, preparing them to achieve at a higher level.

As Up On Game aims to impact 1-million young athletes, and recognizing that technology now must play a role in the mechanisms that we use to development a complete athlete, we are able to put key resources at the fingertips of participants through both real-time and video platforms and through the development of a dynamic mobile app, which will use gamification as the hook to keep youth engaged with their self-development.

This will allow us to reach thousands of kids at a time, providing a more concierge-like product that includes having the opportunity to directly engage and learn from professional athletes and trained mental conditioning “coaches”. Technology provides the basis for connectivity, allowing us to be together while being apart.

BUILDING A COMPLETE ATHLETE

In his illustrious professional journey from the NFL to broadcasting and business, LaVar Arrington has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Appreciating all of the lessons that he’s learned, not only is he better equipped as a businessman, but by adopting a pay it forward mentality, he is committed to easing the journey for other athlete-entrepreneurs by taking them under the wing of Complete Athlete and helping them to build the stepping-stone for life after sports.

Helping athletes to understand and prioritize fiscal responsibility, mentoring them as they put their money to work while they are still playing the game, is essential to ensuring the long-term economic viability of the athlete. As a former professional athlete, LaVar Arrington has faced all of the hurdles, been forced to make decisions depending on the advice of others and has achieved success through trial and error. Recognizing that being an entrepreneur is often lonely and discouraging, with the right team, the right counsel and the determination and resiliency to continue in the face of adversity, LaVar has achieved his definition of success, which to him, means impacting the lives of many athletes, making their journey easier, with less of the ‘lows’ and more of the ‘highs’.

Working with young entrepreneurs, LaVar is always quick to remind them that you must never stop learning. Every day in business is a new day, with new customers, new innovations, new challenges, so he maintains that we can never get comfortable with our success. Each day, look for a new piece of knowledge, refine a skill, be brave enough to change when necessary, and most importantly, never assume that you know it all. “I don’t have all the answers today, but I have many more answers today than I had in the days and weeks and years past.”

COMMITMENT TO 1 MILLION KIDS

LaVar’s commitment to the young athlete, developing them into a complete athlete, is his give-back to the sport he loves and the young athletes who will be the leaders and shapers of ‘tomorrow’. In this very disruptive period of time due to COVID-19 and the economic challenges that our schools, businesses and families are facing, LaVar sees the mental toll that this is taking on our youth.

“When schools are remote, and sports competition has been delayed or ceased in many places, there is no mental OR physical release for these young people. When teams can’t practice in person, high-school athletes not getting the recruiting visibility, jeopardizing scholarship hopes, and without the interaction with their peers, we are seeing levels of adolescent depression greater than we’ve ever seen in history. Our 1 Million Kid’s Campaign aims to use the connectivity of technology, professionally developed behavioral development program modules, interaction with top trainers, and the ability to participate in webinars and communicate with professional athletes in real-time to refine the attributes needed for youth to master their physical/mental/emotional health, while also giving them access to a platform for social interaction,” notes Arrington.

“During this time of COVID, we place so much focus – and rightfully so, on the struggles of business, our challenged social dynamic, and how we keep our families financially resilient during times of high unemployment and the overall uncertainties of life, but we are missing a very important component of our future well-being. If we do not prioritize the overall health and well-being of our youth, preparing them to be resilient in the face of adversity – the adversity they will face in school, sports, business and life, then we are short-changing our future. These young athletes represent our future leaders, innovators and change-makers. If we help them build a strong foundation, then they will be able to build a stronger, more united and resilient future upon that foundation.”

“If, through our 1 Million Kids Campaign, we can guide 1 million youth to develop themselves to be the change-makers of the future, accepting the challenge to become more complete athletes and individuals, we will have done something remarkable for the future,” says Arrington.

A LESSON IN EVERY EXPERIENCE

The cardinal rule guiding LaVar through all levels of his career is the notion that: “ALL experiences are learning experiences”. He reminds all of his athletes to seek lessons – both good and bad, in every experience, big or small. “Sometimes the smallest experiences in life teach you the biggest lessons. Pay attention – be present so that you don’t miss these valuable moments.” Practicing what he preaches, LaVar heeds and analyzes each success, failure, and obstacle in his own life. He is confident that his own example will influence and mold budding athletes into being positive, resilient, and determined, but equally, empathetic, responsible and giving individuals.

Going forward, LaVar Arrington sees himself continuing his crusade of youth impact. Carrying on his leadership and legacy as a sports entrepreneur and broadcaster, using the power of media and his commitment to youth, LaVar will change the future for youth, from one to one million.

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