Editor’s note: UCLA men’s volleyball player Steve O’Dell is writing a biweekly guest column pertaining to his experiences as a Division I student-athlete. Every other Thursday, the Daily Bruin will run a perspective piece from O’Dell focusing on a facet of his experience at UCLA.
My name is Steve O’Dell.
I am a student-athlete at UCLA and this column will express my thoughts about athletics, school and life. I play on the UCLA men’s volleyball team, am a member of the Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Internal Vice President’s Office and now write this column for the Daily Bruin. I have many interests, some of which will appear in later articles. To start, here’s a little more about what matters most to me: my family.
I am the youngest of five boys, and the product of two loving parents, Katie and Dale O’Dell. Since day one my parents have been stellar role models. My mom raised five boys, four of them within six years – an impressive feat to say the least.
With all of that experience, my mom definitely knew how to get through to us boys. Allow me share a story about my mom. Once, when I was eleven, we were driving home from a basketball game together and I was complaining about not getting enough playing time. She sat there listening patiently, nodding her head until my rant finally ended. Then she said, “What are the only two things you can control?” I thought about it for a few minutes, but after being unable to come up with anything clever, I shook my head.
She looked me in the eyes and said: “Attitude and effort. They are the only things you have control over. So don’t worry about what the refs do, don’t worry about the score, don’t worry about who’s on the court. Focus on being positive, focus on giving 100 percent, focusing on helping your team – even if that means cheering from the bench.”
From that game on, I became positive. I didn’t care if I was on the bench, because in practice I busted my ass. I learned to never get upset during a match, to never let anything disrupt my focus. Attitude and effort became the cornerstones of who I am. Those two qualities became my wings. I let them carry me all the way to where I am now.
I’m a third-year at UCLA, one of the best universities in the country. I am a Division I student-athlete, have crushes on pretty girls in the libraries and go out on Fridays and Saturdays, sometimes even Thursdays. I have midterms and finals, I am broke and I love In-N-Out.
I struggle with so many different facets of life, but you know what always gets me through? My attitude and effort. These characteristics give me confidence. Confidence in myself, and, more importantly, the confidence to keep going, to know that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.