A coach once told me that the closest place to Heaven is between those two white lines. He was referring to the football field, and I completely agree with him.

Coming into my freshman year of high school I finally had the opportunity to play organized football for the first time, I loved it but it was different than I thought it was going to be. I was out of shape and I had no friends that were in football. All that soda and playing video games all day had me at a disadvantage which meant I had to work even harder to get to where I wanted to be.

Sports taught me that I had to work for what I wanted and sometimes it would be hard, but no matter what I would have to keep working harder. I remember the first summer scrimmage we went into the locker room to see the roster and I was at the bottom of the list.

I was devastated, I worked so hard that summer and it was like my work did not mean anything, but that was a blessing in disguise because seeing my name at the bottom of the roster fueled me so much so that I went from 4th string to starting freshman A team by midseason.

As the season went on I met new friends. Friends that pushed me to get better throughout the tough and exhausting season. I was a tough kid growing up, you have to be tough if you have to play tackle football with your 6’6 300lbs. brother, but I learned that there are two types of toughness physical, and mental.

Mental toughness is defined as a measure of individual resilience and confidence that may predict success in sport, education and the workplace… basically it means if you are tired, hurt, and or sick you keep going not for you, but for the team. Once I joined football I was accepted into a family that only some can say they were apart of, and that means a lot to me. Everyday I go to workout not for me, but for my brothers.

The April after my freshman season I was playing tackle football with my older brother, and my luck finally ran out. I was sprinting past him, but not fast enough he grabbed me and as he went to slam me to the ground my leg went into a little dip in the grass and 300lbs. of force imposed its will on my propped up leg. All I heard was a loud crunch and the screams from my brothers.

My friend called 911 and then he came to talk to me. I told him that this was not going to hold me back, and that I was going to keep my starting spot. He just laughed at me due to the fact that my bone was protruding out of my leg and all I could think about was football, like I said I am a tough kid, and I owe that to football. After a 8 week recovery period I was able to return to summer camp by late June.

Entering my Sophomore year I was named starting offensive guard on JV. This helped me grow as a player while I was working my leg back to full strength. In addition to starting JV I was able to play some reps on Friday nights.

Now it was not like I was in the rotation I usually played when we were up by a lot, but it was fantastic almost like a dream coming true. This year was a great year, it tested my will, but I fought through it and became a better person while doing it.

Now I am entering my Junior year with hope and goals that I have set for myself going forward. Although I have became faster stronger and a better person I know that these next two years are going to be better than the last two. Not only have I grown, but I have seen my teammates grow since last year. Football was just a hobby now it is a part of me.

Football has changed me academically as well, without football I would probably not be as invested in my grades as I am right now. After all I am a student athlete not a athletic student.

My dad has been through it all with me in the bad moments and in the good moments. He always messes with me and says that I am getting too big, but at the same time I have to work harder. Safe to say he has been my coach even before I started playing football.

He always tells me that when I was about 2 years old I was running around on Sunday with my hands up screaming touchdown. He told me that football is in my blood and I think he is right.

Football has transformed me from being a kid who sat around all day watching SportsCenter and playing Xbox to a hard working student-athlete who would do anything for my teammates. I owe a lot to football, after all it did change my life.

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