Ryan Kuhn: It’s OK to adjust the path to reach your dream

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Brynley Fitzgerald

Montana Western Forward Brynley Fitzgerald drives on a Lewis-Clark State defender at Straugh Gymnasium. Fitzgerald is just one example of the 33 percent of basketball players who leave Big Sky Conference schools or transfer to other institutions with eligibility remaining. Fitzgerald transferred to Montana Western after spending her freshman season at Montana State.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

That might work when mapping out a summer road trip.

But, when navigating dreams and goals, sometimes you have to just throw that idea out a window.

Over the last few months, I’ve compiled data on the amount of men’s and women’s college basketball players who left Big Sky Conference schools to either go to a different institution or stop playing the sport all together.

My results from that span of 2015 through 2019 show that roughly one out of three student-athletes leaves for all sorts of reasons, such as lack of playing time, personal reasons or even the rare case of a coach not wanting them there anymore.

While the study focused on the amount of players who make a change, it also shows that there is more than one path reaching to a goal.

It’s okay to adjust your path along the way.

Think of it like a labyrinth. There are numerous paths, some are just longer and harder than others.

One path may not get you to where you need to be but another might.

My path to becoming a professional journalist has been a journey. I’m not complaining. It made me who I am today. I joke that I took the scenic route – a few moves, a few colleges, a few jobs and plenty of peer and family support along the way.

In the end, all I wanted to do was write for a newspaper. I could have given up, but I can’t imagine doing something else.

“Newspapers are dead. Journalism is dying.”

I simply ignore the masses. I just put my head down and power through. It’s my job. It’s my goal. It’s my dream.

Every athlete in the study ultimately found the path for them. For some, merely being able to suit up for Montana or Montana State was the ultimate goal. Others wanted to find success playing college basketball, wherever that might be.

More than 50 percent of players who left a Big Sky basketball program found a new home in a different college basketball program. A good portion of them are seeing more playing time and contributing with their new team.

There will always be people who find a path to immediate success.

But enough determination will get anyone there, somehow.

There is no science to it.

I never thought I would ever take a job in Montana.

Two years after getting the job, I’m still here bringing my best and occasionally sharing an opinion or two, and telling it like it is.

That’s not to say I’ve met all my goals.

I just haven’t found the right path to them yet.

Ryan Kuhn covers Carroll College athletics and high school sports for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @rskuhn