Mijares: NBA star Stephen Curry demonstrates how to rebound from life’s setbacks

From the Desk of Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County Superintendent of Schools

If you follow professional basketball, you’re surely familiar with Stephen Curry, the plucky, sharp-shooting point guard who has powered the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Finals.

Curry has been almost unstoppable this year, earning Most Valuable Player honors in his sixth season. But it wasn’t long ago that major-conference colleges passed him up, saying his 6-foot-3 frame was too small to make an impact at the next level.

Al MijaresWhat did Curry do? He accepted a scholarship from lesser-known Davidson College and worked hard to prove his critics wrong. By his sophomore year, his school had won its first tournament games since 1969 — and nearly made it to the Final Four.

Suffice to say, most young people will not play college basketball or pursue careers in the NBA. Yet there are lessons to be learned from those who have nurtured their natural abilities and shattered perceived limitations by way of an extraordinary work ethic.

In our classrooms and homes, Orange County students must be taught to embrace the idea that skills can be developed and enhanced through effort and determination. Students must also be reminded that setbacks are a part of life and failure is often a prerequisite to success.

As I mentioned in a previous column, research by Dr. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania shows that “grit” can be a significant predictor of success. We as parents and educators can help cultivate this trait by celebrating perseverance above talent — and by establishing high expectations.

That’s precisely why the Orange County Department of Education has outlined the ambitious vision that Orange County students will lead the nation in college and career readiness and success. Some have suggested this goal, while noble, might be beyond our reach. But our schools, businesses and communities certainly have the capacity, and why would we want to set the bar any lower?

Count Stephen Curry among those who believe in outrageous expectations, hard work and resilience in the face of adversity.

It’s a game plan that has proven its worth on and off the court.