If you asked me to describe myself in one word I would say “resilient”. Although I’m only 17, some would say that I have faced some less than desirable situations. However, I have never let those situations define me. Instead I take the situation and find a way to make it work to my advantage and make me a better person.
I am bi-racial and have grown up in a very small town and have been raised by a single mother, with little involvement from my father. My father initially left when I was about 6 years old, and I was very angry. It took a few years for me to work through my anger. Around the time I was figuring out ways to control my emotions, I started playing for a flag football league, and I loved it. I was the biggest kid on the team, the strongest kid on the team, and I could throw the farthest. Not only did I use the time on the field to help clear my head and get my feelings out, I always walked away feeling good about myself. By the time I was able to play JFL I was ready. I took the basics that I learned in flag football and continued to build on them.
During JFL, not only was I still dealing with the absence of my father, but I also started noticing that I was “different” from everyone else in my school. I also started feeling as though I was being treated differently. This is when I first realized that things were going to be different for me given I was a larger bi-racial kid, living in a town that was 99% white. I knew what I was feeling was real and was angry because it wasn’t fair. But I didn’t let it stop me. I used it as a motivator. I realized that I would have to always work harder to prove myself no matter what I was doing, so that’s exactly what I did.
The spring and summer before my freshman year I worked hard. I worked with a trainer and I worked hard in the weight room. When the season came I earned a starting position for the JV football team and dressed for the Varsity team. I continued to work hard and focus throughout the first year of playing high school football. After the end of the season, I immediately hit the weight room. I set personal goals for myself and reached every one of those goals. By the end of my freshman year I was back squatting 385 lbs and bench pressing 235 lbs.
After attending my first combine in May I realized I still had a lot of work to do. I used the summer to train hard and really focus. I went into this season not knowing where I would land. The hard work and commitment paid off. I earned a starting position on the varsity football team as an offensive guard my sophomore year. Although I earned the position, I knew that my work had only just begun. I continued to work hard. I wanted to prove that I deserved the position I had earned, and deserved to remain in the position.
I have continued to work hard every day to prove that I am a team player, a hard worker, and to prove I am worth it. As a result of my hard work I also earned a starting position on varsity my junior year as offensive guard. The time during the pandemic was extremely challenging. Not only did I not have football as my outlet, but my father passed away. In order to take my mind of things during that time I taught myself to long snap. As a result of my dedication, I am currently a varsity starter as offensive guard, defensive tackle, and long snapper. I was also chosen by my coaches to be a team co-caption this year.
I continue to work hard every day. I want to prove to everyone, including myself, that my life experiences, my household composition, and/or my skin color doesn’t define me and isn’t a disadvantage. I have learned that all of my experiences have shaped me into the young man that I have come and have taught me to be resilient.