Facing a fork in the road in collegiate athletics
It was a great run. After a long journey that has finally reached its conclusion one must now decide to continue down this path or close the chapter for good. The amount of fame given to an individual whose contribution to the team is recognized by many as worthy enough to take their talents farther can be appetizing, but also hypnotizing. A decision has to be made. There are many forces in play that can either influence or incapacitate that decision. But what it all boils down to is what is right for the one in the presence of a forked road.
Joseph Webb, a transfer student from Northwest Missouri State, has witnessed exactly what this feels like. Recognizing his talents as an athlete at a young age sparked a desire inside of him to pursue being a collegiate athlete. Fast forward to finishing off his last season as a high school football player, it was now time to focus on achieving that dream. He weighs out his options and finds a program that he feels is the right fit for him. His dream of being a college athlete is now his reality. The challenge is massive, but the journey is nothing he has not been through before. He kisses his parents goodbye and heads off into a world that only the privileged can reside.
Upon arrival, the excitement and nervousness are almost equivalent. However, adjusting to this new lifestyle of one of the most renowned college football teams in D-II football is a challenge Webb is up for.
“When I got there I was like being a freshmen in high school all over again, all the upperclassmen calling you ‘lil bro’ and pushing you around, but I knew I was coming for one of they spots,” Webb said.
It’s now the end of his first college football season. Unable to get any playing time and realizing that his game needed improvement, awakened a conviction within him that would ensure the same would not happen next season. The off season was the perfect place where his new dream of being in the starting position could manifest itself through the work he put in.
Everything was going as planned until tragedy struck. An injury. This set him behind the curve and he now was at a disadvantage. Continuing to chase his dream of being a starter now came with a huge roadblock that would take a lot of time for him to get across. After his recovery, he noticed that the confidence the coaches previously had in him was no longer there which made him lose confidence in himself.
“I started gaining weight,” Webb said. “I think the heaviest I was was about 215…In that environment since they’re used to winning so much it’s like they can afford to lose a player and pick up someone just as good to fill that position. That’s just something I had to remember.”
One thing led to another, and he found himself not being able to earn a scholarship to continue to play for this program in the upcoming season.
Joe now has to find a new route to pursue his dreams. This was something he never expected to happen. His trust was betrayed. To be scorned in a way that showed his passion and future did not matter was a tough pill to swallow but that did not stop him from continuing to pursue his dreams. This was an eye opening experience that many in this lifestyle go through. He decided that instead of being another statistic of a football player who never finished college, he would try his luck else where. And that decision landed him on the Quincy University football team.
To be an athlete on a collegiate level, searching for a place that not only respects you as a person but also has your best interest at heart is a journey in and of itself. Many go on this journey with the expectation of reliving the fame and glory they may have received as a high school athlete. And many can attest to the heartbreaking disappointment that comes when those expectations are not met. Most just quit all together and go back home. But similar to Webb, the ones who are resilient seek out a place that will accept them for who they are and contribute to the goals that they want to achieve. These programs are out there. And many of them are looking for a person such as yourself to step into a position that not only benefits them but you as well. Humble yourself, but remember to never lose sight of your dreams.