Gabe Marks ('12)
The Following was originally published in the Seattle Times by the Washington State football beat writer Stefanie Loh.
Gabriel Marks Class of 2012
Over the last five years, Gabe Marks (‘12) has
made a name for himself as Washington State’s star receiver, but
football is just one dimension of his complex personality.
Marks, 22, graduated from WSU in 2016 as the Cougars’ career record holder for receptions (316), touchdowns (37) and receiving yards (3,453). He’s the Pac-12’s all-time leader in receptions and a two-time first team All-Pac-12 selection, and he’s also one of five finalists for the 2017 MTRWestern Seattle Male Sports Star of the Year award.
Of the five, Marks is the only one at a major transition point. The 6-foot, 190-pound receiver is now training for the NFL Combine, hoping to get the chance to further his football career.
But regardless of what happens in April’s NFL Draft, the last five years at WSU have shown Marks that he is not defined by his chosen profession of “football player.”
With Marks now having closed the book on a successful college career, The Seattle Times asked the receiver to write a letter to his younger self.
What would 22-year-old Gabe Marks tell 14-year-old Gabe Marks if he could provide his younger self with a note of guidance to help him navigate the world?
Here’s what Marks wrote, as submitted to The Seattle Times:
This letter to you is less about your life as an athlete and more about you personally and the way you choose to walk through this life and how you choose to affect the people that you encounter.
As far as football is concerned you will be fine. Your drive to be great and your willingness to work when others won’t will take you further than you ever could have imagined. The countless hours that you will put in over the next years will become your crutch to lean on in times of adversity when you begin to question yourself. You will face adversity. You will learn to use adversity as your ally and wield that energy in your favor throughout your life on and off the field.
You will soon begin to see that the game that you love will give you the perfect platform to affect change in the world around you. No matter how big or how small that change may be, you will feel that it is your duty as a human being to do your part. In the trying times that lie ahead, you will see more division, hate, and overall digression of people’s ability to empathize with one another than you could ever have imagined. I know it may be hard to understand now but your voice over time will prove to be far more valuable than anything that you could accomplish on a football field.
Trust your upbringing. You were raised right. Continue to show empathy and understanding to others even if it seems like an unpopular stance to take. People who oppose you will eventually come around. No matter what, always stay true to yourself and say what’s truly in your heart. You will slowly begin to see that you speak for more people than yourself.
Learn to embrace being alone. You will spark your greatest thoughts and come to your greatest realizations about the world and yourself in these precious moments of solitude.
Read more. Knowledge is the key to the rest of the world that is currently hidden from your sight. Be brave and unyielding in your quest for the truth. Ask questions to things that you do not understand.
Be accepting and tolerant to those who lose their way. You will need people to do the same for you when your trail goes cold, because it will. Embrace moments of darkness. You will always find the light again.
Accept change in yourself as well as in others. You will find this to be one of the greatest obstacles you face. As difficult as this will be for you, it will be something that you will overcome.
I know the things I’m speaking to you about might seem a bit heavy, but I know that you feel that unrelenting restlessness inside of you to not only be a great football player but also a great person. These things I ask of you are things that can’t be done in a day or a month. This is a life’s work of evolving as a person every day and working on yourself every moment. These things I ask of you will mold you into the player that you want to be on the field that people will be unable to deny, as well as a man whom people will respect and love off the field. Keep going against the grain and challenging the status quo, my friend.
Your forever evolving self.
We’re loyal to you Venice High School, to thee we will always be true…