Drive, Recognize, Pursue

DM North_South 2013

The following football play occurred in September 2012, but it was so amazing, I remember it like it was yesterday. If you’re a football fan, you’ll enjoy this description. If not, hang with me, and I’ll tie it all back in.

The ball was snapped. Immediately the nose tackle (on defense, for your non-football folks) engaged the center (an offensive lineman) and drove him back two yards into the backfield. The quarterback handed the ball to the running back, who ran towards the sideline, trying to elude the defense.

The nose tackle recognized the play, and reacted. He disengaged from the offensive lineman who was (unsuccessfully) trying to block him, and ran towards the running back. He chased him down, and tackled him for a one-yard gain.

Do you see how amazing this play was? This player was strong enough to drive back another lineman two full yards, smart enough to recognize the play, and then fast enough to pursue (and catch) the ball carrier.

Drive. Recognize. Pursue. And this guy has been living like this for longer than I’ve known him.

Still Pursuing

He graduated in 2013. As strong and as quick as he was, we were surprised he didn’t get more scholarship offers to play football. The big knock was his height. On a good day, he is one inch over six-feet tall. You don’t see many 6-foot-even lineman playing major college football.

But I saw him last month. He was home on spring break, from the Junior College that he is attending somewhere in the midwest. He is on the football team, and hopes to play a year there before transferring to a bigger school.

He is bench pressing 485 pounds, and his squat is 150 pounds higher than the next person on the team. He ran the 40 yard dash in 5.0 seconds, a solid time for a man his size and strength.

I reminded him that he was one of the first teenagers and football players that I met three years ago. I saw him at a BBQ dinner, where he told me that he has to work and focus to stay out of trouble, since “Bad Things Are All Around Me.”

You see this theme in his life:

  • Drive back against bad influences
  • Recognize that he wants a better life
  • Pursue his goals

The Other Path

Compare this young man with two other guys I know from Allendale-Fairfax. They were before my time coaching here, so I only know of their stories from what I hear.

These guys were some of the most highly recruited athletes in their respective senior years. One was listed in the top 10 at his position, nationwide. Both had scholarship offers from multiple Division I-A schools.

But neither one lasted two years at the school they signed with.

Apparently, both of them had made choices as children, teenagers, and college students that kept them on the borderline of trouble. For one reason or another, they were able to skate by, avoiding the worst effects of their choices.

But it eventually caught up with them. They continued to dabble in trouble and negative things. And depending on your perspective, they were either dismissed from the team or they voluntarily withdrew. Not only did they miss a chance to play for a big-time school, they missed out on a solid (and free) college education.

Your Choices Catch Up With You

Our choices always catch up with us. As (Allendale-Fairfax) Coach Eddie Ford tells his players, “You can’t hide who you really are. Eventually, who you are will come out.”

Sometimes, the consequences (good or bad) for our choices are manifested immediately, and sometimes it takes a while to come to fruition. Just because nothing bad is happening doesn’t mean you are fooling others. It will catch up with you.

And when I look at this young man, who is driving towards, recognizing, and pursuing his dreams — and a better life — I see the other side of the coin. He has worked hard, been respectful, and done the right things. If you earned college scholarships based on character alone, he would be at the top of the draft board.

I know he was disappointed when he didn’t get a big scholarship offer to play right out of high school. But I truly believe that good things will catch up with him. He just needs to keep doing the right things.

He just needs to continue to drive, recognize, and pursue.

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