Olympic Hopeful Tom Scott Reflects On His Purpose And How Religion Has Helped Guide Him Through It All

by Tom Scott

Tom Scott poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on Nov. 20, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.


What's Your Why presented by DeVry highlights athlete’s individual motivations that drive them to pursue greatness on their journey to achieve their Olympic & Paralympic dreams.


I always love and appreciate every chance I get to reflect on why I do what I do! Today I am happy to present my “why” as a part of the series “What’s Your Why” by DeVry University. My name is Tom Scott and I’m a karate athlete for Team USA. I’m excited to be an Olympic hopeful this summer at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 
The recent high demand of qualifying for the Olympic Games has certainly forced me to know deep down the reasons why I work so hard to pursue this incredible dream of mine. Throughout a lifetime of elite competition, at different moments, I have found many reasons to work hard and pursue my goals. After exploring them all, I now know without a doubt the reason I do this is because of God. 
I have always seen my career as a karate athlete as one of my greatest sources of communication with God. He has taught me patience in my hard work, resiliency in my losses, and humility in my victories. My mindset has always been an indicator of where I am at in my relationship with Jesus. I have seen plenty of defeats over a lifetime of competitions. Some I have handled well and some poorly depending on how connected or distant I was to God at that time. I am lucky to have the opportunity to be aware of my different states of mind and progress in life. 
I find it beautiful and intended that so many parts of my life center around continued self-improvement. Being a martial artist, an Olympic hopeful and most of all a Christian, I am motivated every day to seek my best self. God has led me to where these aspects of my life are directly dependent on each other. 
For example, I cannot be my best athlete without being my best Christian self. In as much time as I spend preparing for tournaments, I also have to devote myself and time to my prayer life. I will typically take advantage of long flights and layovers as opportunities to reflect on my life and spend time in prayer. I have learned that when I am grateful for my relationships and life experiences, I am dangerous in the ring. 

I typically set a theme for myself every year to help me stay focused through the competitive season. This year I decided my theme is attitude. There are many aspects of competition that are out of my control, but my attitude is the one thing I know I can control. Like I mentioned before, gratitude makes me fearless no matter the scoreboard. 

Another piece of my attitude is the desire to compete at every moment. Competing has nothing to do with the implications of winning or losing, an opponent’s track record, or even if I am in pain or tired. Competing is the desire to out-play my opponent in that very moment, and afterwards, into the next moment. 

Most of my greatest moments and wins were comebacks against great competitors because my attitude did not allow room for panic and thoughts of losing. When I am competing well with a good attitude, it is also a sign that I am holding that event in proper perspective. Perspective to me means that my priorities are in order. I feel that God has shown me that when I worry about a particular competition then it has moved too far up the list when in reality I have so many great things going in my life outside of that tournament. I use this tool to overcome worry and unleash my best self.  

I know that He enjoys watching me do what I love to do every day to the fullest. God loves seeing all of us in our element, making dreams and enjoying the pursuit. For me, I feel so alive during all the moments that elite competition provides, from pushing my body to exhaustion in day-to-day workouts, to traveling the world, and the adrenaline during the competitions.

If one’s passion serves a purpose or benefits others, then it’s not just that God approves it, but He is also the designer who orchestrates the venture to do good in the world. God shows me that this road of mine is still more than just about me. Whether it’s for my young students in my karate school at home or for athletes that look up to me around the globe, I can see how intended it is that what I learn abroad is meant to translate down to others for their development as well.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share my “why.” It is an honor to be able to share my story with others so that I can help all athletes in their pursuit of their dreams and to discover their “why,” too. 
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