SGTC Jets hear inspirational talk from Vincent Alston
Vincent Alston, a motivational speaker and founder of AlstonTalks, met with the South Georgia Technical College Jets basketball team recently and shared his mantra that “in the midst of every obstacle, there is an opportunity.”
Alston, who has more than 18 years of experience in public speaking and motivating people of all ages, is a former college basketball player who had his dream of playing professional basketball thwarted by a life altering head-on collision with a drunk driver during his senior year at Clark University in Atlanta. The devastating accident left Vincent as a below the knee amputee of his right leg.
As a result of that accident, every bone in Alston’s face was broken, one ankle was broken and he had one leg amputated above the knee. “I passed away twice and was told I would never walk again. I rode into the hospital in an ambulance, but I walked out. I am in pain every day, but I feel like I had to go through what I went through to get to where I am today,” explained Alston. “Maybe that is where the Jets are today as a team. But you can overcome, if you work hard enough and have the right attitude.”
The former third class Petty Officer went to the United States Navy after graduation from Terrell County High School in Dawson. When he was honorably discharged from the Navy, he wanted to play basketball. He signed with Fort Valley State University and played one year before transferring to Clark University. After his accident, he was able to graduate from LaGrange College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Leadership. “I won because I got my degree.”
He shared his experiences to help motivate the Jets. “Never make excuses. I never lose because I either win or I learn. You can too. Life was trying to steal my dreams but I still went pro because I got my degree. I put in the work and to be successful, you are going to have to put in the work, not only as individuals but also as a team,” said Alston.
The Jets opened the season with a 4 – 10 overall record against some very tough competition. Two of their four wins were in overtime and the other two wins were by margins of six points or less. Even with a .294 winning percentage at the beginning of the year, Alston shared how the team could turn it around. “You have a great opportunity here at South Georgia Technical College,” said Alston. “Your new season starts today. Basketball is just preparation for the game of life. You are going to have challenges in life. How you deal with those challenges determines what happens after basketball. Basketball has been around before you and it will be here after you.
“The question is how do you want to be remembered? Losing is hard but you have to keep at it. Work hard every day. Pick each other up. It’s about your heart. If you get your points but we still lose. That does not help your team. My game is and was TEAM first,” stressed Alston. “If the team doesn’t win, make adjustments as a team to lift each other up.”
Alston shared that defense was his ‘main stay.’ “Defense is the bread and butter of winners. I got playing time because I became the best defensive player on the team. We had it in our mind that no one should get the ball across half court. If they didn’t get to the basket, they couldn’t score. We beat a team in waves. I scored 24 points a game. In my mind, I knew that if I could score two layups and two free throws or one other shot every eight minutes, I would score 24 points a game. By playing defense, I got two layups and the chance to shoot free throws every eight minutes.”
One of Alston’s keys to being successful is being confident. “Confidence is an invisible garment that looks good on you no matter what you wear,” said Alston. “But there is a big difference in cocky and confidence. Confidence properly placed is humility. Be confident in who you are as a person and as a team and don’t let anyone take that away from you.”
Alston also shared that how an individual performs on the court can speak volumes about the future. “After basketball stops, you better have a job. Your degree will help you get there. Put in pro work in the classroom and on the court. There is never an excuse not to work hard. You need to respect time. Make the most of it while you are here.”
In closing, Alston encouraged the players to not complain. “Don’t make excuses. Hard work can make hard decisions look really easy. Put in the time and the hard work. Win or learn and you cannot lose. You have a great opportunity here. Your new season starts today. When properly prepared, you don’t wait on the moment, you run into it. Basketball is very simple. It is offense and defense. Make a basket, stop a basket. You do that and you win.”