Three years ago, I was a beat-up high school athlete who wasn’t ready to give up on a dream of competing in Division I athletics. At that point, by most measures, I was a nobody.
My first life aspirations for college athletics were in lacrosse. I had a lacrosse stick in my hand since I could walk—I love the game, my parents both played in college and are lifelong coaches. For the majority of my life, I envisioned playing lacrosse at the highest level.
In high school, I overcame a serious upper body injury that required surgery while playing hockey during the first of two freshman seasons. However, the next year I bounced back to win a starting job as an attackman and become a Brine Underclassman All-American in lacrosse.
During my sophomore year, I blew out my knee during the first hockey practice of the year, an injury my surgeon attributed to repetitive contact from football while playing safety.
Despite missing most of my sophomore lacrosse season, I drew enough interest from the summer circuit to begin recruiting conversations with a number of coaches. I started my junior year mostly unburdened except for nagging hamstring issues, which were manageable at the time. During my bye week in the fall, I took a visit to one of my dream schools. At this point, I was exactly where I wanted to be.
However I was dealt another roadblock, I broke my collarbone in five pieces at the beginning of lacrosse season that year. Within a week, I lost my opportunity to play lacrosse at a dream school. After learning that my season was over, coaches around country had a pretty standard response: “I’m really sorry, but…”
Doomed by the early recruiting culture of lacrosse, I realized that my window had probably closed. At this point, one of my own coaches told me that I should lower my expectations—I was shooting too high. I still remember exactly how I felt when he said that.
Lacrosse was not the only sport I loved, and the prospect of playing football at the next level was something I realized might be possible. As a senior, I continued to fight hamstring issues while searching for any opportunity to be a part of a collegiate program. More often than not, I was passed over. Some told me, I simply was not good enough.
Signing day came; I watched friends and teammates declare where they would play in college. I wanted to be happy, but I was jealous and frustrated. I would force a smile when people talked about playing in college, and give an empty “congratulations” when I had to, but deep down I was hurting.
In April of 2014, I began talking to Richmond’s football staff. I was already admitted to the University, but as a regular student. When I was invited to walk on to the team, it was the opportunity I had wanted so badly. To be given a chance—that meant the world to me.
This past year may have been the most rewarding of my life, but it easily could have never happened. If my life in high school had unfolded without some serious twists and turns, I would probably not be playing football right now. When I think about that, I am thankful for every broken bone, torn ligament, and strained muscle that pushed me to where I am today.
Today, I am a 1st Team All-American, All-State, All-Conference, Scholarship Athlete, Walk-On who will never stop working to be a better player and teammate.
Griffin Trau #44