By: Melanie Watson
Tacked to University of Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley's bedroom wall is a plain but very important sheet of white paper. A list of 10 goals, including “play four years – earn a spot and contribute significantly” and “teach other young men wisdom,” are written in black ink under a headline that reads "The Dream."
These vision statements were written by Conley when he was in high school. However, the desire for leadership and excellence illustrated here was developed much earlier.
“His accomplishments always seemed to be a little more than we could have ever thought or imagined,” says his mom, Christina.
When Conley was 9 , he invented a portable stand to keep his scooter upright for a school science and technology fair. His idea earned him a great reward and an invitation to an awards ceremony in a national young inventors competition.
“When he won that award I remember looking at my husband and thinking ‘is this an indication of what we’re in for?’” his mother says.
As he approached middle and high school, Conley’s desire for success continued to grow. One day he came home from high school and asked his mother how to be the best. She pointed her son to Psalm 1:1-3, a passage that talks about how "blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked." He posted that verse and others on his bedroom wall around his vision statement. When he left for college, he brought the vision statement with him to UGA.
The one thing that publicly defines Conley the most -- his football talent -- wasn't discovered until late. Until then, he was recognized for his other talents.
Conley is an avid fan of music. Not only does he sing and write his own songs but he’s also been playing the guitar since the sixth grade. Half of the music on his iPod does not have words to them as he enjoys listening to scores from movies. Music was his first passion before football and it’s something that he would pursue professionally if given the opportunity.
“I didn't start playing football until the ninth grade so until then, music was what I loved to do,” says Conley. “Football is still kind of new at this point which makes it fun and keeps it interesting.”
Football was a novel idea for Conley and he had friends who were on the team so he decided to give it a shot. It wasn't until his sophomore year at North Paulding High School when Conley began to flourish at the sport. Although Conley was new to the game, he stood out to his coaches and everyone else because of his leadership and hard work.
“It was pleasant to see that your best athlete was also your brightest and hardest-working athlete”, says his high school receivers coach, Mikey Henderson. “He wanted to be a part of everything that was positive. He was a leader.”
Henderson, a former Georgia wide receiver himself, says he’s proud to see that Conley has held true to himself in his transition from high school to college.
“The other kids looked up to him because they knew he was that go-to guy,” says Henderson. “He was a vocal leader in the classroom and on the field. That was him from the moment I met him.”
Next to the vision statement on Conley’s bedroom wall is an identical sheet of paper with updated goals. Among this list are the words “don’t settle.” While Conley has fulfilled some of the goals from his original list, he’s not satisfied. At the top of this paper are the words “The Dream Reloaded.”
“I want to be the best at everything I do. Whatever it is, I want to do it well,” Conley says. “Sometimes you just find yourself in that position of leadership and you’ve got to be a good steward with it.”
That guiding principle leads to the final goal on his list which simply says “point them to Him.”
Conley’s junior year was his most definitive one yet. As his talent continued to emerge on the field throughout the season, a vision of his leadership simultaneously unveiled itself before the public eye. This vision is anything but new though. In fact, what everyone is now seeing is the vision reloaded.