I was introduced to you in the fall of 2009 as just a little ole 3rd grader. I then won a championship in 4th grade and then played one more year in 5th grade. I played Tight End all three of those years and never caught a pass or was even thrown the ball; I lost the love for you. I quit and never thought I would play again. I didn’t play anymore for my city. Eagan, MN saw the last time I would ever play football, so I thought. In 7th grade I was presented the opportunity to play again for my school. I played, and I simply did not like it—it was not fun for me. Fast forward to freshman year, I knew going to a new school I had to play a fall sport to make some friends, so I went back to you to give you one last chance. The odds were against you. I loved watching football, but did not like playing.
Freshman year: The day was August 27th, 2015. I had played the Tight End position for four years of football and recorded 0 catches. I finally got a catch. Lined up on the left side I went down the field and Nick Lynch threw me the ball and I caught it and ran for about 20 yards. In just that single play, just that one moment, I regained the love for football I thought I had lost forever. A few weeks later I recorded my first touchdown and the feeling I had when I crossed the goal line was like no other; indescribable. The freshman football season I shared with my fellow classmates of the class of 2019 was as memorable as it could be, finishing 10-0.
Sophomore year: During my freshman football season, I did not play defense, in fact, I don’t remember playing much defense throughout my entire football life. That did not stop the coaching staff from starting me at outside linebacker for the entire duration of my sophomore year. I did not play that well. There came a point in the year where my coach took me aside and said, “If you cannot do your job out there, we will find someone who will.” On the offensive side of the ball I had just one catch all year. After that season I didn’t know where I was at. I lost confidence in my abilities and didn’t know if I even wanted to play my junior year. I had been told I was bad on defense, and then didn’t have much success on offence either. I strongly considered not going out for my junior year, but something told me I had to play it out, had to stick with it and trust the process.
Junior year: Here I am at the start of junior year, not even wanting to be there, but immediately I was rewarded for my choice of sticking with it. On the first offensive drive of our season, I caught a long touchdown pass from my good friend and quarterback, Jacob Zay. We would connect again later in the year for another touchdown and once again, I realized my love for this great game. Some people love the sport of football because you get to hit people, some just to be a part of a team, I loved it because when I had the football in my hands after a catch, I had the greatest, most indescribable feeling in the world. I was in love with that feeling.
Senior year: Entering my senior year I wanted it to be the best yet. I worked hard all off season and preseason to set myself up for a good year. The hard work payed off, I recorded over 30 catches, 500 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Most importantly our team had a great season going 7-3 heading into the section championship. The week leading up to the section championship, every time I stepped on the practice field, I appreciated the moment and opportunity I had. Thursday night I had what would be my last practice of my life, I left the field not thinking about that though, I believed we would practice again after beating Jordan in the game on Friday. Friday came… I have never been more nervous for a game in my life. So many thoughts of “could this be the last game I ever play”, but I tried to ignore those thoughts and stayed optimistic. Fast forward to half time of the game. We were down 21-0. I was fighting back any negative thoughts and believed we were going to make a historical comeback. It wasn’t until 6 minutes left in the game, when we were down 33-6 that I started to realize this was it. I didn’t want to leave anything in the tank; I wanted to give it my all for these last 6 minutes. I wanted more memories. We were on defense and the quarterback threw the ball and I intercepted it. I got up, handed it to the ref, and went back into our offensive huddle fighting back tears. A meaningless interception in the landscape of the game, but it was one last memory I was going to be able to hold on to for a lifetime. The final minute finally came around. I look at the clock and I see 20 seconds remaining. Not 20 seconds left in the game, not in the season, but in my entire football playing career. I watched each second tic off the clock as if it was in slow motion. When the clock hit 0:00, I lost it. I stood on the field, crying like I haven’t ever cried before. All the blood, sweat, and tears I put into this great game all came out at once. I went around the field, finding my fellow seniors who I knew were feeling the same as me, and we cried in each other’s arms. My football career was officially over.
Football, we had a roller coaster relationship. I gave up on you and doubted you, but now here I stand wishing I could go through the entire journey again. I want to thank you. Not only for the memories I will hold on to forever, but for the relationships I made that will never be broken. This is one of the hardest goodbyes I will ever say…
Goodbye, football… I love you