I have met so many amazing people since I moved to Cookeville, but there is one student-athlete in particular who I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.
I first met this football player back in the spring of 2012. I was told that he was very quiet but incredibly hardworking. That summer, he proved this to me as my work-study student. There wasn’t a task that you could ask of him that he wasn’t ready to do to the best of his ability. He was extremely quiet, but also very polite, humble, and honest.
I watched him progress as a football player, becoming one of our team’s best-running backs simply by proving time and again that he would do whatever he was told, without question, comment, or complaint. School started proving a little difficult though, and his upper-division courses required new methods of studying that he wasn’t quite used to yet. In the summer of 2013, I was called upon to be his full-time tutor, and we worked together for three semesters toward his projected graduation date of May 2014.
Over the course of those three semesters, I watched this football player develop into a more confident, self-assured, well-spoken young man, and also into a proud father. We met multiple days every week after school and work to study — and I can promise you that I was late to our meetings more often than he was. There was never a time when he questioned our study sessions, never a time when he couldn’t show up. Never a time when he demonstrated frustration or boredom or questioned why we needed to work on what we were.
For a full year, he was attentive, willing to work, and driven. Over time, I saw his confidence grow. I saw him change from a student who questioned his abilities, to one who was confident in knowing answers. I can not tell you how rewarding it was to watch this transformation.
And the setbacks — oh, there were many. There were plenty of opportunities for him to quit. So many chances for his outlook on life to turn negative. Yet he remained a positive and happy person, a true inspiration to his friends, his teammates, his coaches, and to me.
Today I watched this young man collect a college degree that he truly, fully deserved. Attending his graduation was the greatest honor and reward I could ever have imagined. I wish him nothing but the best for his future and pray that he never changes from the kind and selfless person that I know him to be.
Now, it’s off to bed for this girl. I have a 5 a.m. run planned that I am DETERMINED to make it to. Goodnight!