The Best Decision of My Life
Below is a feature story provided by FanWord.com about Keegan McDowell.
The Best Decision of My Life
When I look in the rearview at the memories, relationships, and experiences I’ve had here at Liberty University, it’s kind of crazy thinking there was a point when I actually considered leaving this place.
I was in a different state of mind back then.
It was a situation where I didn’t think I was going to play as much as I wanted, and that drove me to seek out other opportunities.
But man, I’ll never forget that conversation I had with Coach Ritchie McKay, when I told him I’d be transferring to another school. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. No one can prepare you for making a choice like that — you know, not staying and seeing things to the very end.
I spent years building all of these relationships, and I was basically choosing to go to a completely different school and do it all over again.
Nothing about that decision came easy.
Getting cold feet
I took a redshirt year and actually committed to another school.
That’s when all of the memories I’ve had at Liberty started to hit me.
There was the actual hoops side to my decision, but there was also the personal side of everything as well. I started thinking that the athletics side of it was just one chapter in my life, you know? But the relationships I’ve built with my teammates and coaches was something that would last a lifetime.
That’s when I started reconsidering my decision to leave.
There was a lot of history for me with the school as well considering this is the place where I accomplished my dream of playing NCAA Division I basketball. This is where it all started, and deep down, there was this large part of me that just wanted to see it through, even if it meant playing less minutes.
I’m the youngest in a family of five, and two of my older siblings were heavy into basketball. I’ve always looked up to them and wanted to follow in their footsteps.
Liberty gave me the opportunity to do that.
So, I ended up staying, taking my redshirt year as a junior and playing two more years. There isn’t a day that goes by that I regret that decision.
It was the best decision of my life.
Earning my way back
I still felt like I had to prove myself to my teammates and coaches when I returned.
I knew how it looked — me trying to leave the program and then suddenly coming back. You’re basically telling everyone in the program — coaches, teammates and staff — that you don’t want to be a part of it anymore.
So, I knew I had work to do to earn everyone’s trust again. I didn’t want to come on too strong when I returned, and it was definitely a process.
I just hope they know my decision to come back was all about them. It was about the fact that I’ve had the privilege to be a part of something special here at Liberty. I got to see this thing in its entirety being built into a winning program.
Three straight conference championships, an NCAA Tournament appearance and stuff like that — I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of it all.
One of these days, I’ll be able to look back on those moments and say, “I remember when.”
Keeping the memories
For now, I plan on kicking back and enjoying the little time I have left in my last semester.
During the season, I thought about playing professionally and perhaps even going overseas. My minutes went up when I returned to the team, and I actually started 26 times as a senior. So things sort of fell into place for me, and it led to me seeing quite a bit of improvement in my third and fourth seasons.
But honestly, I’m not sure what I plan on doing at the moment. I dealt with some injuries, and I’m just kind of taking it easy right now. I’ll also be getting married soon and finishing up my master’s in finance. So big changes are definitely on the way!
There are a lot of pretty awesome life things happening at the moment, but I’m for sure going to miss it here.
I love all of the relationships I found throughout the entire athletics program. That’s ultimately what drove me to come back and not transfer away. I kind of came to that realization with the understanding that my playing career might not pan out. But even if I don’t get the stats, accolades, or anything that I’ve dreamt about, the relationships that I’ve built with my teammates, coaches, and the rest of the staff make it worth it regardless.
I’ll never forget the memories of those individuals that helped build the program into something we could all be proud of over the last five years.
Even if it was just for a little while, I’ll always be thankful to have been a part of it.