--Ralph Trey Rivera, III
(position: offensive and defensive lineman, age: 15)
My father was a strong man. He played for Texas A&M as a linebacker, until he blew out his knee. He quit college after that, because he said that it just wasn’t worth it without football. He loved the game so much.
I was nine, about to turn ten, when my father died. I was going to my room, when all of a sudden, I heard something fall. I heard my father call out. When I went to see what was happening, I found out he was having a heart attack. He told me not to call my aunt. He didn’t want her to worry. But I still called the police, because I wanted him to be safe.
When we were in the hospital, everybody went into my father’s room. I mean, I have 24 cousins. That’s a lot of cousins. Everybody--my cousins, grandma, uncles--everyone went into my dad’s room to see him. So finally, I went in there, too, and when I got out, the doctor said I was the only person he opened his eyes for, because he really loved me.
I first started playing football when I was in seventh grade, because I couldn’t it get out of my mind that my dad had wanted me to play. I didn’t think I had the talent for it until I started playing, and my coach looked at me. He said, “You got a natural-born ability. You might be a big guy, but you know how to use yourself to that advantage.”
My father was such a football fan. I liked the way he would talk about it, with passion in his voice, like that was the one thing that nobody could ever take from him.
I chose to play football in memory of my father, so I could relive his legacy, and show people I ain't somebody you can just go and step over.
(as told to The Recollective
at 4th and 1 Football Camp