Allen - Grand Rapids, Michigan
Entered on November 4, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

East Grand Rapid’s football team: ranked #1 in the state, 11th in the Midwest. I will have to somehow handle an all-state tackle who outweighs me by fifty pounds. You might expect me to have some trepidation concerning the game. However, I know I can handle him. This is because of all the hard work I accomplished in the off-season. I believe in the idea that through hard work anything can be achieved.

My story begins October 18, 2007. Our varsity football team was on a long ride home after having lost to St. Joseph in the playoffs. I was on the team bus because I had been moved up onto the practice squad. The hour long ride home was full of disheartened players promising that ‘next year would be different.’ They made countless promises to work hard during the off-season and come back next year to win the state championship. However, I feared these promises would never be fulfilled. I knew that they were just saying these things to make themselves feel better. They would probably lift weights for a few weeks and then quit when it became old. I decided right then and there that I would work every day of the off-season, no matter what. I made a personal goal to start as a junior on the varsity football team.

So I did work. I lifted ten straight months four days a week, no matter what. I didn’t go only when I felt like it; in fact most of the time I didn’t feel like it. However, it definitely made me faster and stronger. I went from a combined bench, squat, and clean number of 615 to 835. I now hold the junior line squat and clean records. During the summer, we hired a college lineman to tutor me twice a week.

All of this hard work paid off. Because I lifted everyday, every coach knew my name. I went from being just a member of the team to being known as the guy who always works. I also achieved my personal goal: I’m one of only two juniors that start on our team.

My belief also applies to my academic life. I currently carry seven full classes and an early hour every day. I’m enrolled in two AP classes, two math classes and Advanced Composition. I didn’t sign up for this schedule because I’m a geek, or because I enjoy school; I choose to have such a heavy work load because I know it will eventually pay off.

So when I lined up against the all-state tackle Friday night, I already knew the outcome. I knew he hadn’t worked as hard as I had in the off-season and that I would control him. I will always wonder what the final score might have been, had all my teammates made the same commitment I did. I believe we would have won.