Athlete reflects on experience

It was an eerie silence although the gigantic stadium was sold out.  Out of the silence came my coach’s voice echoing,”Interception Corey…We need an interception!” 

It felt as if things were operating in slow motion as I watched the opposing quarterback throw the football. While keeping my eyes on the ball, I leaped and extended my hand, which acted like a magnet for the football. 

Out of the silence came the roar of the crowd as I tucked the football under my arm and took off for what would be my first defensive touchdown.

While my legs grew very tired and heavy and my shoulder pads felt as if they were smothering me, I thought of bringing myself immediate relief from the pain by slowing down. Instead, I chose to persevere and strive even more earnestly to get into the end zone, which went beyond the coach’s requests. 

“Touchdown!!” The eerie silence was replaced with joyous sounds of celebration. I often think of this moment and how playing football helped encourage the development of my character.

Many look at the life of an athlete as all glitz and glamour.  Some think we live this life because others cater to you.  As a former student athlete myself, I can state from experience that things are not always what they seem. 

I was recruited to play football at the University of Cincinnati, but I transferred to FAMU to pursue an education at a great HBCU and to play football. 

I have learned many valuable lessons and disciplines from the experience of playing ball. Years of physical and mental conditioning for football taught me great priority skills, discipline and dedication. 

These qualities have equipped me with some of the tools I need in order to successfully cross various goal lines in life. Football taught me how to tackle obstacles head on as well as to make interceptions when up against opposition.

Because I am pursuing a pre dentistry and biology degree, the class work can become rather difficult at times. 

I have to find the perfect balance of being successful in the classroom, on the gridiron, as well as contributing to the goals of other organizations that I am involved in.

Although it was arduous, I truly cherish my experience as a college football player, and at time miss the game.

However, I take comfort in knowing that the time spent being a part of the team not only taught me how to persevere when things get rough, but also provided me the opportunity to meet some life-long friends. 

J. Corey Tanner is a fifth-year biology student from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. He can be reached at