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Passion for the Game


Justin Coughlin

The game of basketball has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I will always have memories of opening my Space Jam basketball for Christmas when I was 6 years old, or sitting in front of the television with my dad as he explained why Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time.  I grew up in rural Colorado, and my passion for the game was nurtured by the community. In high school I played for the Yuma Indians, and the support of the entire town made for a cherished and memorable childhood.  Northeast Colorado holds a special place in my heart for this reason.  There is something special about a packed gym where every person in the community puts their life on hold to support the local basketball team.  People who show this type of support to young men and women can make them feel a little more important than they are, and give them the creative license and confidence to pursue whatever their dream may be.  I was truly lucky to have experienced this growing up in a small town, and I would not change that for anything.

My experience growing up in this environment has made me realize the importance of showing support and interest in the true passions of others as they develop and pursue their goals.  I am fortunate to be in a similar situation as a Fellow at El Pomar Foundation, and as a coach for the Coronado High School basketball team .  As a recent college graduate, it is a rare to experience an environment that aims to make individuals the best professionals they can be as they prepare for a career in a variety of fields.  The same support I felt growing up is present at the Foundation as I begin to develop an excitement for my future career, whatever that may be.  The great, late Nelson Mandela stated “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”  These remarks resonate with me because the desire to work at something I can be passionate about has been instilled in me by the people surrounding me from childhood to life as a young professional.