Between sophomore year of high school and junior year really transformed me, and of course I’m not just talking about the culmination of puberty. The cocoon had broken, and now I was a social butterfly.
I look back now and it’s hard to believe how it happen, and that I have maintained it for over 20 years.
Well I was preparing for my first season of varsity football, determined to show I was tough and could play with the big boys. I worked my tail off in the weight room, got into better shape, and learned more about the game. I was gonna shine, even if I didn’t see much playing time due to a large and talented senior class.
Also, I spent six weeks at the Upward Bound program at USC-Upstate (then USC-Spartanburg). That program, along with football, allowed me the opportunity to become more social with a different crowd, prepared me for life after high school, and showed me another world outside of my small hometown. I was a new young man indeed. More confidence, swagger, and simply more driven.
I returned to Blacksburg High in the fall of 1994 for my junior year on a mission. To achieve as highly as I could, and be my best self. My grades improved dramatically, I was much more social and less anxious, and I was known on the football team for my hard work and determination. I didn’t see the field much, but one game I did and the student section chanted “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!” , reminiscent of the sports movie classic Rudy. He never gave up in life and neither did I. I even received Defensive Player Of The Week for that game, despite playing only two series.
Things were sky high for me. I still had insecurities regarding the ladies and not yet having my own vehicle. However, I was more popular in school than I had ever been. This was one of the best years of my entire life, and served as a springboard for the future.