My junior season is officially over. This means that I have one more football season to play, and then I’m done... forever.
It feels like yesterday when I think about showing up for football camp for the first time. I remember flying to Ohio as an anxious freshman embracing this grand opportunity to play for one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. I remember stepping foot on Bailey Field for the very first time. All of these nostalgic thoughts relentlessly pop up in my head as I continue to accept this realization. My time as an Oberlin football player is (almost) up.
While I’m dealing with this realization, I’m also thinking of the seniors who recently played their last game... ever. I really feel for them, because those guys are like family, you know?
Many people don’t know this, but there’s a leadership hierarchy in most football programs. Seniors are usually placed pretty high in this hierarchy, because they have been a part of the program for the longest time out of everybody on the team. I actually watched many of the seniors turn into great leaders right before my own two eyes. Like, I watched most of their physical and mental developments over the course of these past three years. I watched the class of 2017 and the class of 2018 play their final seasons, and it was quite emotional seeing them go. However, this last class, the 2019 class... sheesh. Watching them go has been pretty difficult to experience. Those guys have been around since I first arrived to Oberlin. The people who hosted me on my visit are a part of this 2019 senior class. I’ve spent so much time with my senior teammates ever since I’ve been here. I still have a semester to hang out with them, which is awesome, but they won’t be able to grind with the rest of the team during the off-season. They’re done with playing football... forever. I’m going to miss them all.
I’m so proud of how this team fought this past season. I’m looking forward to seeing how that carries over into the next season and the seasons after that.
This team endured so much adversity this past season. We played with roughly thirty-five guys every single week against some of the best teams in the conference. My team was composed of people who WORKED. There’s no doubt in my mind that this team was composed of some of the hardest workers I have ever seen. The work ethic I saw from these guys from the off-season to the end of the season was something to admire. This game is so difficult and time-consuming. It takes a lot of energy to do the bare minimum, let alone extra work. There were guys who put in extra work to exceed the expectations that our coaches placed on us, whether it’s watching extra film or doing extra workouts. Trust me: effort was rarely, if EVER, a problem in our football program.
Along with the effort, I see flashes of the great talent that this team has. The record may not show it, but trust me, the talent is there.
There is so much talent, and I hate that it wasn’t showcased the way it should have been this past season. Luckily, the team maintained many of its good players after the seniors played their final game. I have no worries for this football program, especially when I know that our off-season program is going to develop a lot of our players even more. We’re going to get so much stronger and faster than we were last year.
Y’all, I’m EXCITED for the future. The experience this team has is also going to be a huge advantage.
We’re used to not having a large roster. Sure, the overwhelming fatigue is what caused a lot of problems, but it also made the team mentally stronger than most of the teams we’ve played. It takes so much mental toughness to play on the field when you’re already exhausted. Many of our players, including myself, had to learn how to endure the consequences of playing on a team with a smaller roster. Now that we have more experience, the chances to thrive under these circumstances are even greater. I also believe in the coaches’ recruiting. Once we get even more guys to commit to the program and what we’re trying to accomplish, I believe we can be something really special next year.
The transition to the off-season has been pretty nice so far. Both my body and mind needed the rest, and I’m sure that everyone involved with the Oberlin football program can agree with me on that. There are so many people who deserve credit for their efforts.
This past season has been taxing on EVERYONE involved. There are so many people who work hard for this program. It’s not just the players, either. The coaches work tirelessly for the team. They show up early in the morning just like the players do, and they often have to stay later than they would like. They make sacrifices just like the players do, and I don’t think many people realize that. Coaches spend hours on strategy ALONE. On top of that, they have to make sure that the players’ grades are up to the standard of the program. It’s Oberlin College. The education is the most important thing we’re going to receive from this place, and the coaches place a huge emphasis on that. Along with checking on the players’ grades, the coaches have to recruit. Recruiting for a prestigious school is especially difficult, because the selectivity on test scores and GPA is higher than most other schools. This means that the search for recruits who can get into the school is even harder. The coaches have to deal with that challenge on TOP of everything else! There are so many others who make this program what it is today. Many of the parents show a lot of support for us. They provide meals for us before early morning practices and after games. Then, there’s the team meals on Fridays! *insert heart emoji* Those are a blessing, to say the least. I also can’t forget about the training staff! They work ridiculously hard for those who are recovering from an injury. The athletic trainers work for every athletic program at Oberlin, so they have very busy schedules already. Then, they have to set aside time for us in the fall. I’m grateful for them, just as I’m grateful for everyone else who contributes to the success of the Oberlin football program. The record will show for the efforts one day, but until then, it’s time to go back to work. Go Yeo!