I had been a football fan all my life as a teenager going into high school. I never had the balls to play though. This all changed during the end of my sophomore year of high school when I decided I would sign up to join the football team for the upcoming season. I understood the game, the lingo, and how to play. I had just never played organized football before. I was nervous, having really no experience whatsoever. After my first few practices, my coaches told me I had large amounts of potential and that I should take advantage of it and work my butt off. That’s what I did.
Summer practice was an interesting experience for me. The normal process is that the team does conditioning and practice with no pads starting in late June. Then, in late July, we start with pads. Practicing with pads on was very awkward for me at first. The grime, the sweat, the extra weight, and the aspect of contact made the game a completely different experience for me. A few of my good friends, who had been playing football since freshman year, always messed with me during practice because I didn’t know how to hit or how to take a hit. For example, in my very first tackling drill as a football player, my friend Tyler (who is playing football in college on a scholarship as a linebacker) was holding the hitting bag as I approached him to hit the bag. I had the feeling that Tyler was going to mess with me, but I didn’t stop because I didn’t want to anger the coaches. I took my chance at the bag and was met by an overwhelming force (Tyler) that put me flat on my ass. Everyone got a kick out of it. I guess you could say it was my welcome to the football team. As I sat on the ground, I had a quick realization. I was always the tiny kid getting pushed around. I thought to myself, “It’s time to change that. I’m going to start lifting hard so I’m not that kid anymore.” After being knocked around on the field for a week or so, I finally became acclimated to the football life. Practice was crazy during hell week. It was pushing 100 degrees every day and we had two practices a day. It was one of the toughest weeks of my life. I had plenty of thoughts about quitting, but I refused. I wasn’t going to quit on myself. “No” was not an option for me. I saw the adversity coming from miles away, and I took it head-on. Nothing was stopping me from playing high school football.
As a junior, I earned a spot on the football team as the number 3 receiver and I couldn’t have been happier with my place. I was rolling along. I studied the playbook at home, had the quarterback teach me the plays, and made sure I memorized them. My dad did the same. We would go out to the park and he would make me run my routes and he’d throw me passes. I strived to be the best, and I was well on my way. As my junior year progressed, I gained a great deal of respect from my peers. Younger players looked up to me as a star because it was my first year playing football and I was already starting on varsity. Things were only getting better for me, though. The quarterback was set to graduate at the end of the season, and someone had to take the spot. I knew in my heart that I was meant to take it.
After a dismal season as a team (4-6 overall record), I wanted more out of my senior year. I dedicated myself to this goal. I worked harder than I ever had before. I wanted to play quarterback and lead my team to victory. Being a quarterback requires so many skills, though. They are always regarded as the most intelligent, and literate players on the field. To be able to read defenses, read player keys, memorize all the plays and routes, it definitely doesn’t come without work. I took the initiative to seek out a quarterback trainer, who would help me become the player I wanted to be. My dad went through hours of searching and talking to friends in order to find the right guy. He did. His name was Steve DiMeo. Played quarterback for University of Georgia from...