Carlin Isles made the transition from track to rugby in just one year. Isles, from Massilon, OH was a football and track star in high school, and he continued football and track at Ashland University. Isles has aspirations of making the 2012 Olympic games as a sprinter, but as the 2012 Olympic games approached, Isles was the 36 ranked sprinter in the US, and his career was at a crossroads. He started to realize that Olympic dreams were slipping away. It was then that Isles discovered rugby, a new sport for the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil, and decided to give it a try. As expected, there were growing pains as there would be with anyone picking up a new sport later in life, but even though he didn’t know the nuances of the game, Isles had something that couldn’t be taught, speed. Plus he was hungry to make it work because he didn’t have any other options. Desperation is something that drives people to success.
Carlin Isles has come a long way with a game he just took up about a year ago. Isles is a member of the USA Eagles Sevens Men’s Rugby Team, and he hopes to be part of the USA Rugby contingent at the 2016 Olympic games. Isles has a chance to concentrate on his 2016 Olympic dreams because he recently signed a 4 year sponsorship deal with Nike. A sponsorship is necessary in non-revenue generating sports because those additional funds are necessary for the athletes to survive. The Nike deal helps Isles because it gives him time. Isles was considering a move to French Club and Heineken Cup Champion Toulon, but decided not to do it after signing his Nike deal. That time may be the difference between Isles becoming a superstar versus a failure. The professional rugby game is a violent culture, and it is wise for Isles to continue to hone his skills and bulk up before making the jump. In the 7 on 7 game his speed is more deadly, but in 15 on 15 (what the pros play) the more people on the field will mean he can’t get by on just speed alone, plus I don’t know if he’s ready for that pounding because no matter how fast you are, eventually the odds say you will be caught.
Whatever happens Carlin Isles has made it and he should be an inspiration to us all, but especially the urban youth. Thinking outside the box and hard work are paying off. He will have to work hard to keep it, but at least he is still on a path where is in control of his own destiny. Isles never gave up on his Olympic dream, so it would be nice to see him get rewarded. His story is one of humility and hard work, which is something that many of us could stand to learn more about.