Nate Boyer grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and at times felt guilty because of all the love, support and opportunity he had at home. He describes this feeling as living in a "bubble" where you can't see anything else going on around you. Although I grew up on the other side of the country in New Jersey, I can relate to that feeling of growing up in a "bubble". It wasn't until I attended Rutgers University and took a class called "Race, Class, Gender and Schooling" where I was one of 4 white kids in the class that I began to realize how naive I was to what was going on outside of the borders of Long Valley, NJ. Nate's scope on the idea was much further-reaching than mine and he said he was greatly moved by the events of 9/11.
At the time, he was traveling the world in an attempt to get outside the "bubble". He would work odd jobs (we talk about what he learned from working with autistic children in this episode) to save money and travel on a modest budget, but as Nate put it in the interview, he was "exploring without a purpose." While back in the U.S., Nate found a purpose when came across this Time Magazine article called The Tragedy of Sudan and felt an overwhelming sense of duty to help out. So naturally, he saved up, bought a plane ticket, got a visa and "negotiated" his way over to Africa as volunteer. Give this article a read and let me know if Darfur sounds like a place you would voluntarily want to go ... I wouldn't. During our conversation Nate talks about the various obstacles he came across while in Darfur and how he overcame them.
Upon Nate's return to the United States he wanted to join the Army Special Forces and become a Green Beret. After seeing the type of people he wanted to fight for in Darfur, Nate felt a connection to the U.S. Army Special Forces Motto “De oppresso liber,” which means “To free the oppressed." Nate became one of the 11 out of 157 recruits in his class to make it through the intense training required to become a Green Beret. This is where learn why the abbreviation for Special Forces (SF) stands for "suck fest." After serving 5 years of active duty, Nate sought out a new obstacle to conquer, and that was playing Division-1 college football for one of the most prestigious football schools in the country, not to mention Nate had never played organized football before.
Nate had always been a good athlete growing up and was a standout baseball and basketball player. In episode 52 we learn how lesson's learned as a Green Beret translated to playing football. For example, always placing the mission first and fighting for the man on his left and right helped take some of the worry off himself and onto someone else. Listen to the interview to find out how else Nate was able to set himself apart from the rest of the walk-ons. We also learn about what it was like playing for legendary coach Mack Brown, his successor Charlie Strong and finding his niche as a long snapper. The Longhorns certainly didn't live up to their history of glory while Nate was on the team, but he gives us examples that prove why the result isn't always where happiness comes from.
Since Nate was a kid, he wanted to be a professional athlete and that dream came true when he signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Although this stint in the NFL wasn't as long as Nate might have hoped, he continues to have a positive outlook. Nate has achieved some incredible feats in his life, but he considers getting cut by the Seahawks a time of failure. At the end of this episode, Nate teaches us why its important to redirect the energy and pain from these moments and use them as fuel to go after the next goal.
In our interview, Nate says his "comfort lies in discomfort." Nate has continuously sought out obstacles and destroyed them time and time again. Whether you're an athlete who suffered an injury, got cut from the team or are facing another obstacle, I have no doubt you will learn your necessary next step from listening to Nate's tale. Know that when you are uncomfortable, you are also growing into a better person and athlete. Most recently, Nate has been featured on multiple media outlets discussing the controversy over Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem. Check out his Open Letter the Colin HERE and watch the video below!