Ex-PSU player urges students to win by ‘being your best’

Lee Rubin had a message to share, “Don’t just play. Win.”

Rubin, a former Penn State University free safety who at one point served as defensive captain for the football team, moved on to the corporate world after college before finding his voice as a professional speaker.

Rubin presented his message to Youngsville Middle School students in grades five, six and eight Tuesday morning while grade seven students were on a field trip.

His definition of winning may not be what you expect.

“Winning is simply being your best,” Rubin said. “It’s not just beating other people. It’s winning life. It’s being your best potential self.”

According to Rubin, he has given hundreds of presentations to groups from students to business leaders. He said he bases the content of his presentation on the insights into what makes a winner contained in his book “Win”.

“I try to do two to three a week,” Rubin said of the frequency of his speaking engagements.

The program focuses on three characteristics he said are key to being a winner, “knowing who you are, knowing where you’re going and not letting anyone or anything stop you.”

“This is where adversity comes in,” Rubin said in reference to the last characteristic. “It’s not always easy. You just gotta push through.”

Rubin tailored his presentation to the audience and got the students involved with the program through participation and response activities.

He noted he was a scholar athlete which, coming out of high school with a 3.9 GPA, was an important distinction to him.

“That’s important,” Rubin said. “It’s no good just to be an athlete. Be a scholar athlete.”

Rubin took time to delve deeper into each of his three characteristics for winners.

“Most people don’t have a clue how unique and special they are,” he told students. “We know more about others… than we know about ourselves. If you don’t know about yourself, you’ll never reach your full potential.”

He had students raise their hands, “as high as you can”, then asked them to raise them a little higher. Once they did so he pointed out that they had raised their hands higher than as high as you can.

“I think, you thought that was all you could do,” he told students, “until I asked you for a little bit more.”

Rubin pointed out to students that each one of them was unique amongst the seven billion people on Earth, using the example of fingerprints.

“No one on the entire planet is exactly like you,” he said.

He asked students to remember that any time they don’t feel like they’re good enough.

He told students that winners know what they want to achieve and work to get there.

“Winners set goals,” Rubin noted. “Winners know where they’re going and set aggressive goals to get there.”

He then asked students about adversity, asking the audience for a definition before giving them an official one.

He noted adversity is common to all people and facing it doesn’t have to be a negative experience.

“Adversity happens to everyone,” Rubin said. “If everyone experiences it, the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is how they handle it. Challenge is not always bad… Adversity is opportunity in disguise. It’s all in how you look at it.”

Rubin told students about his transition to PSU, noting he found athletes better than him there when he arrived. He pointed out that he spent his first year as a redshirt athlete on the football team while he developed and improved his physical ability.

He ended his presentation with a question and answer session with students.