My life was changed when I attended my first football game in the second grade. Before that moment, football had always seemed larger than life, almost as if the characters on the living-room television screen were giants sparring or superheroes with lightning speed. When I saw them in person, it all became grounded. Those giants didn’t seem much larger than my dad, and a thought entered my mind, “What makes me different from those people on the field?” When I asked my dad what it was, he calmly replied, “It’s a decade of hard work and wanting to get a chance to play in front of you.” Those words became ingrained in my mind and my life. Around the same time of that Buccaneer’s game, I was playing flag football for the local YMCA team. I enjoyed it, but it was hard to love pulling a flag when you see how much fun the players in college and the NFL had hitting each other. Besides, playing on the television is where I wanted to be anyway. When my mother let me play tackle football in the sixth grade, I finally got to feel the joy of hitting for myself. Never had I experienced as much pride as rag-dolling kids around the field before. That feeling never gets old.
Playing football for around six years now, I can see for myself what adults have been telling me about hard work. Much like what my dad told me almost a decade ago, hard work truly does reap rewards. I have added wrestling in the winter and spend my summers running and lifting weights to improve my foot speed and gain a competitive edge on my opponents. The rewards for the effort put in during the off-season are apparent in the form of power and agility when the pads go on in fall camp. As a team leader and captain, I motivate my team and individual players to perform to a level I know they can reach, even if they don’t recognize it in themselves yet. This also holds true academically. By working to stay focused on studying in and out of the classroom, I have been rewarded with the team high grade point average. My high level of competitiveness and commitment to excellence has earned the respect of my peers and coaches and continues to be the driving force behind what I do every day.