Henry Ford High School, Detroit ‘86
Michigan State ‘90
Drafted by Patriots in 12th round ‘90-’91
Free agent going to Green Bay cut at end of camp ’91
Saskatchewan Roughriders ‘91-2000
After football was over with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, it was a tough transition for me. I had hematoma on my right frontal lobe on my brain that ended my career sooner than expected and life changed quickly. I had all the different symptoms like depression, mood swings and emotional outbursts but I didn’t know what was happening. I knew very little about this condition. Though confused with what was happening to me, I needed to find my way into the workplace. I found out it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride, immigration issues, employers that weren’t honest and upright which caused legal problems, and my wife being pregnant all piled on to make a difficult transition. All this adversity was tough, especially not being in a normal state. I was always wondering when the old Ventson was going to come back, but that guy was gone. I began dabbling with drugs to dull the thoughts and avoid dealing with and understanding what was happening to me. I went from being a professional football player, who could afford a good life, to only being able to afford a 1988 Ford Escort that cost $300. I was working 2 jobs and times were tough. As I reflect on this story today, I realized that God never puts more on you than you can bear, I was reminded of my high-school coach and what he taught me a long time ago! I have to take you back to my sophomore year in high-school when I started playing organized football for the very first time.
I was excited to play football but really didn’t know too much other than the basics. I was a pretty good athlete and just counted on that to get me by. The football season began, I wasn’t starting yet, but a true test would be coming soon. It was the second game of the year and the starting cornerback was out with an injury and so it was my turn. Not only was I going to be playing cornerback for the first time, but I’d be going against an All-American, Dino Dawson! That whole week my coach, Joe Hoskins said, “Be relentless, don’t be denied, force your will and don’t you back down!” He gave me this speech the entire week. He kept telling me over and over and over the same thing, and I started to believe it. I played bump and run on Dino the entire game (the only thing I knew how to do). My focus wasn’t on Dino but forcing my will that was encouraged by my coach. This relentless mindset that was taught to me at 15 allowed me to make it through my first football game, and it also helped me make it through the “game of life,” especially when football was over. The Check Your Game moment for me was taking what I learned from coach and making a decision that the biggest battle was me against me. I decided that I was going to implement coach’s mindset in being relentless, not being denied, and never quitting! The biggest thing I did to get back on track was removing the victim mindset. Currently I’m not only coaching, mentoring youth, and doing speaking engagements to help share my story to encourage others, but I am also an employment project coordinator that empowers those I work with to improve their mindset to reach their True Potential.
You’ll have to reach out to me to hear the rest of the story at www.ventsondonelson.com.
I would say you have to develop a process for success and know what that looks like. There are certain components with this process. Be accountable, be consistent, show commitment, maximize effort, and be focused. These key elements all work together and then when you add discipline, you’ll create a relentless mindset for yourself. One last piece of advice is that you get out what you put in!
V, thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate your willingness to share about your life and the humility to share some real personal things. I'm so glad you now are involved with kids, coaching and speaking so others can learn through your story as well and to know that it started with your High-School coach is amazing. It sounds like your coach was a great guy and it should encourage other coaches to know that their influences can have an impact that will never be forgotten. I encourage others to reach out to you to not only hear the rest of the story about Dino, but also about how to get that mindset to reach one's True Potential. That is exciting to me! If a person can learn how to do that, there's nothing that can stop them. After knowing you for a bunch of years, not only were you a great player, you also are a good guy. Thanks again for sharing your Check Your Game experience in overcoming obstacles in your life. -Gary Rogers