How Football Changed My Life

A Story of Dedication and Perseverance Most of us have played since we were little. Maybe we were even forced into the sport by our father or older brothers who once played. Football for most, starts at a young age. The family’s Saturdays are spent at the local field where the games are played and […]

A Story of Dedication and Perseverance

Most of us have played since we were little. Maybe we were even forced into the sport by our father or older brothers who once played. Football for most, starts at a young age.

The family’s Saturdays are spent at the local field where the games are played and concessions are sold. This ritual is continued until either the players lose their love for the game, or they continue on to the junior leagues and then high school. For me, this seemed like the norm for youths. You play football, that’s what you do. Besides, what else are you going to do on Saturdays?

But, the truth is that football wasn’t a game intended for everyone. Some people might think so, but I don’t. Football is not for the faint of heart, nor for children with no discipline or values. When you have that ball coming towards you, all you can hope is that your padded football gloves and they will help you.

This game is so much more than X’s and O’s, but the average onlooker will never realize it. All they see are the Terrell Owen’s and the Chad Johnson’s of the sport and don’t see the dedication and desire it takes to be a part of the team.

I was pretty lucky. I had success at the sport at an early age, and it came easy to me. I don’t think you can truly appreciate the sport until you get older, let’s say high school aged. It was in high school where I realized that it actually takes effort and hard work to remain a part of the team.

Still though, I was successful and earned a starting spot on the team my freshman year. We had a great season, where conference champs and I managed to get through it injury free, which is always good.

The next few off-seasons took their toll on me. I never wanted to do anything and saw it as a waste of my time. I would show up for conditioning and really have a bad attitude about it.

I didn’t want to do anything in the weight room because I was talented, and I thought that could get me through. And for a while, it did. My teammates would continue to get better and excel in the off season, while I simply went through the motions and never gave it my all.

So, after graduation, I kept in touch with a lot of my high school friends. We’d hang out, talk a lot and sometimes the conversations would turn back to the good ole’ days of high school. Sometimes my former teammates would ask, “Why didn’t you ever work hard in the off season?”

I didn’t have an answer, and it made me feel as though I let them down to some degree. I didn’t think anyone noticed or cared that I was dogging it. I thought it was all about me and whether or not I wanted to get better. I was wrong, and it was too late to change it.

From there, I transferred to a state university with intentions of playing football as a walk-on. I worked harder than I’d ever did in 4 years of high school. I gained weight, muscle and got faster in preparation for the tryout. In a way, I felt like I was doing it, not only for my former teammates, but as a way to prove to myself that I was more than just a talented athlete. I wanted to be known for doing something that people didn’t think was possible.

When the time came for the walk-on’s to be tested in different skill drills, I was ready. For the first time, I really felt like I had trained harder than anyone there. Out of 12 or so guys, I was one that made the team and I couldn’t believe it! It was a goal of mine to come out of obscurity and make a Division I football team, and I did it with hard work.

These days, I coach for the high school that I’m employed at as a guidance counselor. I love what I do and I love the kids that I coach, because a lot of them remind me of myself. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how I can make myself better. It has been instilled in me to never settle for mediocrity and always strive to do you best, no matter what it is. It has changed my life in a way that I can never completely realize.

Football, for me, has given me a work ethic that drives everything I do in life. It has changed me, for the better, and I hope that everyone that ever puts a football helmet on realizes what the game is truly about.