Rebel Pride; From our schools, Dec. 11

Published 8:05 am Monday, December 11, 2017

Through a player’s eyes

By Sam Tiller

“Dear High School Athlete,

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You are more than just a kid playing a sport you love. You not only represent your school, you represent your town. You are a role model for every little kid that sits in those bleachers, and it will teach you more than you could ever dream. Enjoy it.”

– Anonymous

I am this student-athlete playing the sport I love. I was the kid in the bleachers who dreamed. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. And, I have certainly enjoyed every moment.

As a senior football player for Boyle County High School, I recently got to have an experience of a lifetime. My team earned the right to play in the 2017 Class 3A State Championship. The whirlwind of a week leading up to the biggest game of my life gave me the opportunity to reflect back on where it all started.

I started playing football in the second grade for the Woodlawn Colts. I did not really have a reason to play other than being encouraged to sign-up by my older brother and his friends. Deciding to do so was easy because I wanted to be cool just like them.

Even back then, Friday owned the nights my friends and I looked forward to every week in the fall. We grew up playing two-hand touch behind the stadium in the Rebels’ shadow. We were the kids you told to stop playing too rough while pretending to be the players we idolized. We were the Lamar Dawsons making the tackles or the Rees Macsharas scoring the touchdowns under the bright lights of Rebel Stadium. We knew one day we wanted to wear the jersey with Rebels across the chest.

In 2009, when my older brother and my other role models earned their right to state, I remember them coming to Woodlawn Elementary to throw a pep rally. Funny thing is, it seemed like only yesterday. We were so excited that our jaws dropped when they entered the gym. I recall the players spelling out Rebels with their bodies. They also signed t-shirts, and I was super excited when Macshara signed mine. That was also the day I decided I was going to win a state championship.

Fast forwarding ten years, I now am the player walking into Woodlawn’s gym. Our team has just won our state semi-final game, and we are now making our rounds to all the elementary schools for pep rallies to generate excitement for the upcoming state title game. 

As soon as I stepped inside Woodlawn, a flood of forgotten memories and emotions took over. While I was speaking to those young kids, I saw myself in all of them. I saw that same jaw drop and I saw the same reactions to the cheers we led. They were there listening and watching because we had reached our dream.

Standing in front of them with a mic in hand, I was struck by what I realized. I was now the player those kids were looking up to. I realized that I am now their role model. With a flow of nostalgic feelings, I saw how far I had come.

What I did not know when I was younger, I fully understand now. I played because of the lessons, the connections, and the growth I was able to make as a player, a teammate, and as a person.

I learned that actions speak louder than words. To me everything is black and white. Anybody can talk a good game, but when it comes down to it, players show who they are through their actions. They are either going to work everyday or they are going to take days off. Champions of any kind do not take days off.

I learned that you reap what you sow. As Coach Chuck Smith preaches, you win the championship way before you ever play the game.

I learned that a team is more powerful than any one person. When a group of people strive as one towards the same goal with an undeniable effort, amazing feats can be accomplished.

Most importantly, my brothers and I have learned that it is amazing to be a part of something greater than ourselves. To be a Rebel is to be part of a family. A dream achieved by family before us, achieved again by those inspired, to be passed on to family to come.

Together we have learned more than we could have ever dreamed.

And that is why I enjoyed it.

Photo by Gary Wood
Nick Walker (5), Sam Clark (71), and Hayden Shepherd (43) lead the way when receiving the state championship trophy.

Photo by: Gary Wood
Marquise Kinley, a running back and defensive back for the Rebels, does an awesome back flip showing the middle schoolers who is boss during the middle school vs. high school dance off during the Boyle Middle School Pep Rally.

Photo by: BRN Staff
Throughout the week various football players and coaches visited the BRNNews room to interview with Larry Vaught from “Vaught’s Views”. The web journalism class then had the opportunity to upload their state week memories to their website

Photo by: Taylor DeBord
Students at Junction City Elementary anxiously await for the Rebels to appear for the state week pep rally.

Photo by: Gary Wood
Sam Tiller was filled with emotion as he embraced Coach Chris Pardue immediately after the Rebels 3A State Championship win.

Photo by: Gary Wood
Sam Tiller showing off his old Woodlawn football jersey during the pep rally at Woodlawn Elementary Thursday before the state championship game.