by Kerry Taylor
Summer is coming to a close. Yeah, I said it, sorry guys but there are some great things that happen. College football starts back up, all the high school and pop warner fields are being used and NFL training camps get going as well. Did I mention football is starting? But seriously, around this time of year I start to reminisce about my football career, coaching and playing from high school all the way up to pros. This year, I have been thinking more about going from high school to college. What a difference it was. I remember the day like it was yesterday.
We hopped in the car and drove for what seemed to be forever to Amherst for the first day of camp. I was a nervous wreck the whole way there. “Will I fit in?”, “Am I big enough?”, “Will I be able to keep up?”, “How big is the playbook?” and of course “What do the girls look like?”. Hahahahaha. Seriously though, my whole life was about to change. All the hard work in the weight room, classroom and on the field had lead me to that moment. We arrived, I stepped out of the car wide eyed, very anxious and nervous. I unpacked the car and headed to the check-in table with mom by my side. We checked in and headed up to my temporary dorm room, met my roommate and it was see you later mom.
Over the next few weeks it was all football, 24-7. We had a daily dose of practices, weight room, testing, studying, watching films and a talent show. It was definitely a bit of a challenge. Just getting used to all the new teammates I had was a little tough, but a lot of them are close friends I still have to this day. As camp came to a close and we wrapped everything up, it was time to move into our regular dorms for the year. The great thing about that was I would have the same roommate I did for camp. I didn’t have to go through that awkward stage of getting used to someone new all over again.
Once the school year got going I started to realize things were really going to be different. How different you may ask, A LOT different. There was no mom around any more to make sure I ate, did my work, cleaned my room, be my shoulder to lean on or an ear to talk to. I was on my own and had to make decisions on my own. Yes, this was before the advent of text messaging and facetime that we now have at our access at the drop of a dime. It was up to me to go to class or not. It was up to me to stay up until 3am. It was up to me if I wanted to go out and party every night. It was up to me if I wanted to get to practice on time or if at all. EVERYTHING was up to me. I had to figure out quickly how to balance everything that came with college and on top of all that, all my responsibilities of being an athlete. It was a very hard ground to navigate myself through.
My freshman year first semester of football was NOT fun at all and college was okay. A lot of different things played a role in me feeling that way. We were losing, playing in New England is always a treat with the weather, classes were more difficult and I was getting very little, if any, playing time. That first semester was so miserable that a few of the guys in my incoming class said goodbye to each other and exchanged phone #’s because they either were going to transfer or not play football anymore. But, to my surprise, we all returned for our second semester and it was the best decision we made because we all graduated, had new friendships for the rest of our lives and ended up going down in history as one of the best football teams UMass has ever had.
The moral of the story is even though things seem tough, it’s better to stick it out. You never know how it will turn out in the end. Until next time, continue to live a life 1 degree above the rest.
P.S. I’m running a Varsity Athlete Training Camp to help student–athletes that desire to or are going to play at the college level be able to navigate the waters better than I did. If you know of an athlete this may be suited for, please share this with them and their parents.
We will be having a Q & A session for all parents that are interested in this program Thursday night, 8/6, in Studio B at 7pm. Come on down.