Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, football was all around me. I would always watch, and hear about games from the San Francisco 49ers to the San Jose State Spartans. My whole life I always wanted to be a professional football player. I thought that my life was going to be all about football. One thing stood in my way of pursuing this child hood dream. I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Growing up an Adventist was not a big deal at first. I loved when Sabbath came around. Everything stopped; our family would always sit down and open the Sabbath together. These memories mean a lot to me, and I will never forget them. As I grew older I realized that because of my beliefs, I couldn’t play on a football team.
Most football games are played on Friday nights or Saturdays. My observance of the Sabbath was very conservative. I was raised by parents who, when it came to the Sabbath, were very strict. We couldn’t do chores, watch T.V., go to school events, or even go to parties on Sabbath.
Every year my friends would play Pop-Warner football. Every team happened to practice or play games that fell on Sabbath. Right away I would already know I couldn’t participate. A lot of my friends I played at school with wanted me to play on their teams. To everyone’s amazement, I would tell them that I have church on Saturdays. I guess that’s how I started witnessing to my peers. Telling people what I believe and about the Sabbath was weird at first to me. Kids seemed interested why their churches didn’t mention the Sabbath and its holiness. I thought people all knew what I believed in because it is clearly stated in the bible.
A lot of opportunities came up for me to play in football leagues. People who knew me even offered to sponsor me. They were willing to pay my team fees because they thought the reason why I didn’t play was because of money.
It was my fourth grade year when I started giving up on believing that I would be a professional football player in the NFL. I started thinking of what else I could use my talents for. It seemed like I would never get the chance to play football.
My freshman year came, and I went to a new school. I remember going around the school with all my friends who were on the football team. After school they would all suit up in their pads for practice. I didn’t even try to get on the team because I knew they practiced and played a few games on Saturdays. My friends seemed all excited as the football season was about to begin. They all tried to convince me to at least workout with them and just practice.
A couple weeks into my freshman year, I started going to practice after school. I lifted weights, conditioned, and watched film with the team everyday. I didn’t know what position to play so the coaches had me do everything. I did drills with the linebackers, corners, lineman and receivers until they wanted me at the quarterback position.
I did okay at playing South City High’s backup quarterback but I knew this wasn’t the position I wanted to play. They put me at tight end so the starting defense had people to practice against. One of the plays was a ten yard corner route. I lined up in my position and went out for the pass. It was difficult catch down field that I had to make, and I did a pretty good job. The coaches and players were impressed and wanted to see me catch more. I showed them that I could catch and play that position well because I could also block.
Sophomore year came and was my favorite year of high school. I was the starting tight-end and became one of the team’s leaders. I led our team in receptions and receiving yards. My relationship with players and coaches on the team grew a lot. They became my closest friends. I told them my situation about Sabbath, and they respected me not coming to two games that were on Sabbath.
During football season and spring training, my coaches told me to not practice on Fridays. He understood that I needed to go home and prepare for the Sabbath so he would let me skip practice every Friday. Toward the end of the season, the sun started setting even earlier. This effected my playing time. The last games of the season started going into night time on Fridays so I usually left during the fourth quarter. There was one game left of the season that was not on Sabbath. I remember playing all out, but having to leave at half time because the sun was setting.
My chance to play football was a great experience for me. This made me realize that God has a time and place for everything. I believe I was blessed and was a blessing to someone else for staying strong in keeping the Sabbath holy. After the football season, I have always missed playing football. Sometimes I would play flag-football, but it’s just not the same. I am glad I had the opportunity to experience playing football but at the same time sharing my faith.
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