Connor MacDougall Talks About Journey To Prove Himself At UVU
(Connor MacDougall is a graduate transfer at Utah Valley University, having joined the Wolverines following the completion of his degree at the University of New Mexico.)
OREM, Utah – This is the year where I get to finally prove myself.
Since my freshman year of college, you could say that I’ve had it rough with my basketball career. From limited minutes of playing time to season ending injuries, I haven’t had the chance to give it my all on the court.
Behind-the-scenes, that’s been a different story.
I was recruited out of high school to many high-level Division I schools to play hoops. I chose Arizona State. I’m from Tempe, so getting to play ball in my home state was a big deal.
It didn’t all go down the way I had envisioned. I only played in six games during my freshman season, and then there was a coaching change. It just didn’t work out for me.
“UVU was the place I needed to be. It would be the place where I could prove myself once and for all.”
I then took the junior college route and transferred to South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, where I had a great season. I put up big numbers and earned NJCAA All-American honors.
After such a great season at South Mountain, I wanted to get back to the Division I level and found my way to the University of New Mexico. I played just one season (2016-17) and played in 27 games, but my playing time was limited. I just couldn’t avoid being injured. It was frustrating and disappointing.
With loss, there comes gain
My injuries prevented me from playing the game that I absolutely love. It was gut wrenching, but I knew that in order to get healthy, I had to work hard to get even stronger.
It was up to me to turn the bad seasons into fuel to be better in the future.
Having attended three colleges in a four-year span, there has been a lot of adapting and persevering to deal with. When I wasn’t getting any minutes in a season due to my injuries, I was rehabbing and getting stronger.
When changes were being made to the schedule or learning how to play with a new team, I had to put my ego aside and learn how to adapt to new environments. I could have reacted negatively, but I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere with that attitude.
If I wanted things to work and continue to play this sport that I love, then I had to change my stars. I had to make every effort to get where I wanted to be. I had to sacrifice a lot of things in my life to stay focused on what my end goal was.
I learned a lot about myself last year
With many challenges that were thrown my way, I had to decide what was best for me.
As I prepared to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico, I knew I needed to make a decision on what I was going to do with my basketball career.
I could go out and enter the workforce right out of college, or I could give myself another chance at proving to myself that I really do have what it takes to be a great Division I basketball player. I had so much to offer, and I needed to show what I was capable of. So, in Spring 2018 I decided to make some official visits to different colleges for my future basketball career.
There was a long lineup of schools to visit. I knew what I was looking for, but there was also a part of me that was hoping one of these schools would show me something different, unique, and new.
Welcome to Utah Valley
Utah Valley University was on my list of schools to visit. I had been to Utah before, and the only thing I could remember was how cold it was. I remember feeling like my lungs were freezing up every time I would take a breath. I also remember that the mountains were stunning.
It was all great.
The people and the entire atmosphere of Utah, that was something else.
It was amazing.
I really had no expectations for my trip to Utah, other than being curious about what they would have to offer.
Once the plane landed and I stepped off to start my official tour, I had this feeling. It was a “vibe.” A good one.
I met up with Coach Pope. He drove me down to Orem, and I was taken aback at how kind and genuine everyone was. I felt at home, even though I had just barely touched down. I knew I needed to be here.
After meeting with the staff and talking things over during the day, Coach Pope dropped me back off at the airport. I knew that wouldn’t be the end of my time in Utah.
UVU was the place I needed to be.
It would be the place where I could prove myself once and for all. I felt like if I didn’t decide to come to UVU, I would regret it. So, I decided that Utah Valley was the place I for me.
With so many changes I’ve had to endure, I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone countless times.
Even in Orem, Coach Pope has pushed those limits. He has set me up so that I can think differently, play differently, and act differently on and off the court.
Being comfortable with the uncomfortable
Here at UVU, I’ve had to be comfortable with the uncomfortable – and you know what? I’m loving it.
The fans of this team have been so welcoming. They stop me in the hallways to express their excitement for the season. That alone gets me pumped for what’s happening.
Wolverine nation, my promise to you is that I will play every game like it’s my last. I will sacrifice my all for my team, because we are brothers. We are in it together. I will give my all on the court, and be the best teammate I can for my team.
UVU fans, will you join me? Let’s get comfortable with the uncomfortable and show everyone what we have to offer.
Get ready UVU…