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Exposure and knowledge are power.
I believe when you are exposed to a certain situation, then the development of knowledge begins. It’s about watching, observing and having the inspiration to want to achieve what you set out to do in life. It all starts somewhere, right? Everyone’s paths are different. You are who you surround yourself with. My journey and inspiration started at the young age of six years old. Not knowing anything but cartoons, Nintendo and playing outside. The one thing I knew outside of myself was that my dad was a High School Football Coach and my Uncle Ron was a coach somewhere in Philadelphia at a place called Temple. I’ll never forget the day my dad said to me “Hey dude, do you want to go see Uncle Ron”?
Something clicked in me during the journey of going to Temple games and seeing my Uncle lead a group of young men. About a year later (I am seven years old now and have a better understanding of who my Uncle is) my father, Randy Dickerson, comes into my room and says, “Let’s go see Uncle Ron”. Except this time we are driving down the street and not flying to Philly. I said, “Really he’s coaching down the street?” (Everything is down the street to us Pittsburghers) He said, “Yep, the Temple Owls are playing the Pitt Panthers.” I said, “Okay”. And from that moment on, everything changed.
My Uncle, Ron Dickerson, who grew up in Coraopolis, PA, was the Head Coach at Temple University. Not only was he the Head Coach, but he was one of the first African American Head Coaches in College Football. (See, here comes the exposure). My dad would religiously take me to Temple Football games. As a young boy I would stand on the sidelines, with my eyes wide open, looking up to the players thinking ‘Wow, they are so big, I hope I can grow to be that big one day’. I clearly remember running around in the locker room, just in awe at the process and the game of football.
Although the Temple Owls lost to the Pitt Panthers that day, I certainly didn’t lose. I was exposed to something that ultimately led me to writing this piece today. It was on that day I saw Pitt Running Back, Curtis Martin, rush for 100 plus yards. As I was looking around the Pitt stadium, taking it all in, I thought to myself ‘I want to be here someday’. I not only wanted to make an impact on people just like my Uncle did, but I wanted to play football ‘down the street’ at the University of Pittsburgh. I was inspired, I gained knowledge and I was exposed to things on the football front that probably 99% of six and seven-year-olds could only dream of. This was my foundation, it was up to me to build the house.
Fast forward about nine years and I get offered a scholarship to The University of Pittsburgh. I commit. Things were rough for my first three years at Pitt. Bouncing around positions, not sure if I could make an impact at all, just totally in the dumps. My senior year comes around, I remember ‘why’ I came to the University of Pittsburgh. I remember the knowledge I was exposed to at a young age. I remember why I wanted to play the great game of football.
I ended my career at Pitt as a First Team All- American. The house was built. The house was finally built. Not only did the influence of my dad and my uncle help me to become a great football player, but it helped me to create relationships, open doors in Pittsburgh and influence other men and women. From the opening of doors and the position I am in now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, I have an opportunity to help give back to the community. This is extremely important to me, just as it was for my Uncle Ron.
As we wrap all the way around. The words influence, exposure and knowledge helped me build the foundation and ultimately the house of Dorin Dickerson. But to me, I have outgrown the house that I am currently living in. I want a mansion now. In order for me to add additions to my house, means I have to influence others. Show people, young and old, that knowledge is power. Do not be afraid to ask questions and expose yourself to success. I will continue being a leader, and I will call on others to lead as well.
Now that I have three young sons of my own, it would be a disservice for me to not expose them to the successes and failures I’ve endured in my life. I just hope that they inherit my same mentality and push forward to become leaders of their generation and manifest their own ‘Journey’ one day.