Article submitted April 7, 2019
April 7, 2019 — Jake Moscato
Thursday, January 3rd, 2019, 8 pm. On the phone with my best friend Quentin having an animated conversation about an altercation I got in the night before at a bar. My right arm suddenly goes numb, heart rate speeds, chest pain, trouble breathing. Am I having a heart attack? I drop the phone, call my friend that was visiting from college to my side. Now I’m in the back of an ambulance convinced my heart is failing. After an EKG and a blood test the Doctor tells me I didn’t have a heart attack but does not know why my arm went numb.
Waking up the next day still shaken up from the previous night I write it off as some freak incident and go to work as if nothing happened. Kinda like how I’ve handled most of my problems. I work at an athletic Training Facility training high school athletes. Midway through my shift my arm goes numb again. I get an overwhelming sensation of “You’re scrwed”. Thinking rationally is out of the window when you believe you’re about to die. My friend picks me up from work, I am convinced I’m having a stroke now. Go to the hospital, parents are severely alarmed. Surely there must be something serious going on. Nope. Jake Moscato we’re not sure what’s going on but you are all good have a nice day!
Rewind 5 years. I’m a senior in Saint Anthony’s high school. It’s college day, everyone is wearing their sweatshirts with their new homes and life on them. Yale, Princeton, Michigan, Miami, USC, NYU and Johns Hopkins!!! Surely I’d be going to one of these top institutions as most of my classmates right!? Nope. Nassau Community College. I didn’t apply myself in high school like most kids. I had other interests. Interests that didn’t involve school and interests that had a price. Not knocking myself though I was never much like the “typical” kid and I’m happy I’m not. But what am I going to do now? High school is about to end and I might be the only kid up until this point to enroll in a community college from the prestigious “Saint Anthony’s.” I get a text from the defensive coordinator at Nassau. “Hey kid you’re pretty good, we’d love to add another lion like you to the program” Good???? How can I be good? All the coaches at Saint Anthony’s had no faith in me. I even went to some of them with my dream of playing division one football, and they straight up laughed in my face saying that’s not going to happen. But here’s the defensive coordinator for Nassau saying he believes in me. Now most people would have said Nassau Community College?? Do they even have a football team? But I wasn’t most people. NCC did not only have a “team” they were the second ranked Junior college in the nation!! 26 kids with division one offers!! 3 future NFL players. Talk about some dogs, straight killers. Finally something to be proud of and hold onto. An identity!! A football player!! That’s who I am. I didn’t care about the ridicule I heard behind my back from teachers and students about going to NCC because I knew I was about to do something legendary! A chip on the shoulder was born.
That summer I trained like a barbarian monster 8 hours a day 5 days a week with a few other monsters. Summers used to be bud lights, the beach, and bad decisions. This summer was sweat, cleats, iron, blood, passion, all the cool words you can think of. I made an entirely new person in those months on the field and in the gym. I put off all of my insecurities and worries and decided to get the fuck after it, everyday.
August 1st 2015, First Nassau Football meeting. Surrounded by grown ass men, height as tall as 6’8, weighed as much as 400 lbs, and me being a barely 6’2 small Italian kid on defense. So much for being a barbarian monster, more like a tadpole in the middle of the pacific with sharks and killer whales in the middle of December. I put a lot of thought into quitting that night concerned about me surviving on that field, but I didn’t quit. I flourished. And those few months at Nassau Community College were some of the best of my life.
I’m writing a lot and I’m actually having fun doing so but for the purposes of this article I’m going to summarize the next few years. I wish writing in college was this much fun but I’m also not going to get into the many problems I have with our education system.. There was a scandal late in the season at NCC and all of the coaches were fired and most of the kids on the team left. After some issues at home I found a new place to call home.. In Los Angeles at El Camino College!
Redshirting my first year after an injury I quickly realized I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. West coast football was a whole different animal, and I better get hip to it or this guy might come home after travelling 3000 miles without a division one scholarship or any for that matter. I trained hard, very precise. I developed a new level of finesse and became the Michelangelo of pass rushing. I even got a nickname called the Juice man!! Full of energy and enthusiasm I broke the team down every game. I balled out the next season splitting time with 3 other amazing defensive ends. I could’ve played better if I was given more time but im happy all of us ate because it’s a dog eat dog world in JUCO, and most kids don’t make it out. I later won the Jim Hanchett award at El Camino for being the Most Inspirational Player!
That offseason I collected many offers, none division one. Until a day after my birthday I got a call from the defensive line coach at Missouri State University! Full ride scholarship!! 1000 a month stipend! Division one! Sure it wasn’t the biggest school ever but odds were already stacked against me, and in the two years at MSU I would get to play Oklahoma State in front of 70000 on FS1 national television and Oklahoma the following year!! Talk about a dream come true. Having little to no athletic ability and willing myself to become an entirely different person through grueling physical activity and mental challenges. A new challenge presented itself and I was ready for it. A chance of making it to the NFL, and I was certain I was going to get there..
June 8th 2018 I touch down in Missouri. I quickly make waves during summer workouts, and the coaches and players take notice. Some coaches even come up to me after workouts telling me that I was the future of the program and that Missouri State will win or lose based on me! Hell one week in and I’m already breaking the team down in warmups haha. The athletic guidance counselors even made an award for me!! I am not making this up! I am in a state of pure bliss. The happiest I’ve ever been. I did it!! What so many people said I couldn’t do. That same loser from community college was all of a sudden the division one football player I visualized for so many years. Everything was free; gear, meals, tuition. Parents didn’t have to help at all, and after 21 years they can finally focus on themselves instead of carrying my burden, which made me the most happy. Everyone on the team was super cool and accepted me with open arms, it really felt like a family. But as I now understand the universe is balanced, and with the highest of altitudes come the lowest of depths. Yin and Yang.
After getting moved up to lifting with the upperclassmen during summer workouts I reaggravated an old back injury, and I didn’t just hurt it. I blew it out.. And there was still a month left of workouts... I wouldn’t have hurt my back if the strength program was ran differently but this is one of the many things that you can not control about college sports. You are not as important as you think you are, or your coaches may make it seem. If you do not perform to a level worthy of your coaches needs they will turn on you, spread rumors about you, and get other people to betray you. I made it through the month thanks to ibuprofen and ice baths. I can tell my back was giving up on me, but I still held onto hope that everything was going to workout. I reinjured my back on the first day of camp. Performed poorly for the following two days, and blew it out again on the third day. The pain that I felt from sciatica in my left leg moved to my right leg somehow. Now both legs were basically imobile. I was a walking tree moving at a snail's pace, unable to bend down and put my socks on. But guess what. You still have to practice because football is all about MASCULINITY, and everyone would label me as weak if I didn’t fight through it. And I fought.. Hard. I continued practicing limited reps for a whole month of camp. I was so injured I’d spend most nights crying calling my mom laying on the floor with no relief in my legs or back, then going into full blown muscle aggravation rushing to the shower to get hot water on the back of my legs to calm everything down, and then going back to the floor and so on. It was a vicious cycle that occured 20 plus times a night. The funniest thing about this whole story is that the athletic trainers to protect themselves told the coaches that I was lying about being injured because my MRI wasn’t bad enough for them, even though I have a history of disc bulges and Spinal Stenosis hahaha. They also told the players to spark conversations because they have nothing better to talk about. I quickly watched some of the players and most coaches turn on me. Now I’m stuck in the middle of the country with a broken back and spirit, alone.
School starts and things get worse. Now on top of all of my issues I have to worry about Avogadro's number. What even is that?! I honestly believe if I went to my primary care physician and asked him he’d be like “I don’t know something stupid I had to learn in school”. Majoring in Biomedical sciences to become a PA and make my mom happy; I am drowning in notes, coffee, epidural steroid injections, adderall, shame, a massive beard that I look terrible with. I am losing it!! Like who even is this guy anymore. Im eating chinese food that might as well be cancer every single night, packing on the pounds as well because I don’t have a car to go to the grocery store hahaha. But only a few really knew what I was going through, and those few that cared enough, I love you guys. From the bottom of my heart I really mean it, and I’ll go to war for all of them. I decided to drop out. To save time I made a big post about it on my instagram so if you care to hear about that just reference the instagram video November 11th, 2018. Moving on
Let’s bring this whole thing back to the near past. Two days. Two panic attacks. “Anxiety isn’t real. Some people are just weak and crave attention”. What a naive idea, an idea that was engraved so deep in my brain. Probably part of the reason I had to go through what I’m about to share. Growing up my mom suffered from terrible anxiety. My house is filled with what I thought to be corny sayings like “this too shall pass” or “there is sunshine at the end of the rainbow”. As I write this on my moms desk I’m literally staring at a canvas next to me that says Grateful, blessed, thankful hahaha. I used to make fun of my mom all the time, and never really understood her fully until now. Knowing what I have learned she is the smartest woman on the planet, and part of the reason I’ve managed to get through something I deemed impossible. That thought that anxiety isn’t real quickly meant nothing to me. I couldn’t even leave my house to get a bottle of water without going into full blown panic. Anxiety is real. The panic attacks continued for weeks everyday every night happening randomly. I had to take off a couple weeks at work because I was paralyzed with fear. Jake Moscato, the big strong man used to take on 330lb killers on the field now scared to go to the post office. One of my biggest fears growing up was waking up in a bad dream. When I finally awoke I’d feel a sense of relief. That sense of relief was gone, now those bad dreams were a reality and all hope was lost. You take me, the happiest most positive kid in the world!! And now that same kid has voices inside of his head asking him if life is even worth it. Shouldn’t I just end it, what’s the point? I was really flirting with the edge and was about to take a dive face first over it.
Another night, another panic attack. I need an escape. One person I truly admire is former Navy Seal, Ultramarathon runner, world record breaker, and certified savage David Goggins. I’ve taken a recent liking into reading and knew he had just written his own book. After leaving the gym to try to get some relief I cried alone in my car on the side of the Long Island Expressway. I decided to do some meditation with the app headspace to get a grip. This app and meditation were one of the only things giving me any relief. In my meditation session I decided that I needed to read this his book, so I drove to Barnes and Noble. It took every ounce of strength that I had to walk from my car door to the register, and back to my car. In the next week I finished the book. All 361 pages. I’ve never finished a book in my entire life. I’m not joking. I was hooked to this man’s story and something resonated deep inside my soul that sparked a fire that lit the inferno. It was time to take action!
Action that started with looking deep down inside myself. Before I had the first panic attack I was surprisingly happy. I constantly went around sending positive vibes telling people not to feel bad for me that football is done, and that I was the happiest I’ve ever been. I lied so much I even started to believe it myself, but everything comes full circle. I was excited to drop out because I was so fed up with school, but I never fully dealt with the fact that I wasn’t a football player anymore. Football at a high level is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle. College coaches suppress the idea of individuality, and basically steal your identity from you. I left my identity at Missouri State as a football player, and lied to myself like I didn’t care about being done with the game and it eventually burned me. I had to tell myself the truth. I started by saying out loud “I am not happy”. And not being happy is okay! If you’re not happy with where you are in life you have the power to change it. You are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. You need to remember just how important you are. I saw some statistic last week about how extremely rare it is to be born a human being. You are not a mistake and need to remember that. You are powerful beyond measure!
After you look deep inside yourself you need to start following your heart. I truly believe that every human being has a higher purpose on this earth and are brilliant in their own ways. People get caught up because we wrap so much of our intelligence around school. Just because someone doesn’t get good grades does not mean that they are stupid. How brilliant is Serena Williams, Lebron James, Derek Jeter, Mozart, Freddie Mercury, you name it. All of these people understand their purpose, and live or lived a life of fulfillment. Too many times someone is destined to become the next famous painter or drummer or engineer but is told by peers that their dreams are stupid. That’s why it’s important to believe in yourself. Our mind is our most powerful weapon and once you stop letting others inside of it they can no longer pillage your dreams.
If you’re reading this and are currently going through something I have some solutions that may help you get through it. Also understand that everyone is different, and things that work for me may not work for you. However, I do believe what I’m about to talk about can be very beneficial. One of my best friends hit me up a few days ago and said “bro how do I fix myself”? I told him unfortunately there is no easy “fix”. Sometimes you have to suffer to get to the root of your problems so you can address them. Time is very important. You need to take it day by day, some days are worse than others. It’s all about gaining momentum bringing more positive energy in your life. The more you bring in the more it will come in higher abundances. I still struggle sometimes everyday! However, I’m understanding more about myself and why I feel the way I do, and that makes it easier. I think that hard workouts are extremely important. You need to push your body to the limit and get comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Meditation and yoga are also very important. Staying in the moment, not living in the past or future. Doing things you enjoy doing with the people you enjoy doing it with! Relieving stress at all times, getting good sleep, eating healthier, reading books. Putting more effort into having meaningful conversations and less time into your phone. Remembering that there are no justified resentments. And most important of all staying true to your personal legend. Getting in touch with yourself, finding your purpose and working everyday to get there!
With that being said I’m happy that the universe wanted me to meet Ryan this past weekend because he encouraged me to do this. I feel even better after writing this. If you are going through something feel free to reach out my Insta is @TheJakeMoscato_. I understand my purpose completely. I’m extremely excited for the future, and am working on a super cool project right now that’s going to bring a lot of people together. I’m going to announce what it’s all about very soon and would love for you guys to be there with me when I do. I challenge you to become The Hero of Your Personal Legend!
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