With determination one will succeed in whatever they set their mind to

Looking online for a basketball trainer at the end of my freshman year, I came across Hill Road Hoops. After clicking on their webpage, I found a list of three personal trainers and knowing nothing about any of them I told my mom I wanted to train with John Buterakos.

From the moment I met John, I knew I picked the right trainer. He knew basketball well, and I was confident he would make me work hard and help me improve my skills.

People come into our lives for a reason. As time went on and I began to get to know John better, he became like a second dad to me. We opened up and told each other details about our personal lives while I worked on my shooting form or practiced my ball handling skills. Before I knew it, my hour training session would be over, but sometimes John would let me stay longer, without charging me, so we could finish our game of one-on-one or a three point contest.

About a year after I began training with him, John was diagnosed with stage four Sarcomatoid Carcinoma, a rare form of cancer in his jaw. While doctors said the odds of him surviving were small, John is a fighter, and after a long tough battle full of chemo and radiation, John became the first person in the world to overcome Sarcomatoid Carcinoma. Currently, there have been eight cases diagnosed and John is still the only person to survive.

While John was still trying to beat cancer I continued to train with another basketball trainer. I never did forget the times I spent with him and I felt like something was missing from my time I played in the gym. You never know when the last time you do something will be, so it is important to value the times you spend doing the thing you love. For me, that was playing basketball at Hill Road Hoops with John Buterakos. My junior year I was cut from the varsity basketball team and since then I have put my shoes in my closet. Today I still miss playing basketball and working out with John.

My days of dribbling the basketball are over. However, I now work at Hill Road Hoops and babysit for John’s daughter, Mckenna. I have never stopped learning from John and the pain he went through. The strength and determination he has inspires me every day to accomplish my goals. If John can survive cancer when all the odds are against him, then surely I can do whatever it is I set my mind to.

Through his story I have learned that other people’s words will not determine my success, just because someone thinks I am not smart enough or cannot run fast enough does not mean I will not rise to the occasion and surpass even my own expectations. When the doctors said John would not survive it he had two options. He could have given up and decided to accept his fate, but instead he fought harder. Although I am not battling cancer, John’s ability to rise above the expectations set for him is something I strive to do in both athletics and academics.

Too often people say they cannot do something and give up because its “too hard” or because they are afraid of failing. John is an example to all of us to remember there is no hardship we cannot overcome. When I think my life is terrible or I am stressed out I think about his story. If my only stress is that I failed a test or have a lot of homework to catch up on, then I am really quite fortunate.