#014: The Walk-On Mentality (Part 6 - The Carpet)
It’s like one moment, it's the best day of our life. You have all these expectations for yourself, things are supposed to happen, it’s supposed to go a certain way, right?
(WRONG. The Universe doesn’t care about your expectations or the way YOU think things are supposed to be. NATURE DOESN’T CARE.)
Then you blink & your whole life as you know it gets flipped upside down. All you do is try to process everything that’s happening, but all you can say is, “WHAT THE FUCK.”
FUMBLE. Yes, the carpet. This is the product of not letting the game come to you & my teammate on the front line not doing his job & blocking backside.
I should go back & thank the man that missed his block (he knows who he is) because this was the best thing that could have ever happened to me & completely changed my life for the better.
*Matthew McConaughey voice*
“It was a green light disguised as a red light.”
This moment has led me to where I am today.
I started the first half with close to 100 all purpose yards. I’m still nervous, I really want to score a TD, & my intentions were purley for me to do good. (SELFISH)
I return our opening kick in the second half, I’m supposed to run left, but out of the corner of my eye I see this guy flying in from the backside, I try to stop & cut back, BOOM.
I take a hit, fumble the ball, & drop straight to the ground cradling my knee.
“MY KNEE, MY FUCKING KNEE!”
My dad said you could hear it through the TV.
I looked down and my left knee cap was completely on the side of my leg. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I was just so scared. I am getting put on this cart to get taken to the locker room. My knee cap is wiggling in and out & it hurts so damn bad.
I get to the locker room & I know my dad was losing it back home, so I call him crying & tell him it's my knee, they don’t think it’s an ACL. I was just in tears because I worked so hard for this moment. This was it! This was supposed to be the season, the second half of my story!
But no, the universe had something else in store for me. She wanted me to learn to not be selfish & have selfish intentions. This is bigger than you & football. I needed to be reminded of why I loved this game so much. I lost sight of the walk-on mentality. I got content a little bit.
During camp, I balled out, but all I could think about was that Washington State game. I was looking so far into the future without being present. I wasn't taking it one day at a time, loving the game. I had vengeance in my heart, I wanted to prove everyone wrong for not picking me. I was so self-centered, I didn’t care about the outcomes, I just wanted to do good.
Isn’t it funny how when you get a little success you priorities start to change. You lose that initial edge that got you there.
For example when I was a walk-on, all I wanted was an opportunity to help my team win. Bring value. I was thrilled to be the holder. I took pride in my role. Then, I get to Reno where I am a leader, a starter, & supposed to come in & do all these great things. I started to get selfish. It was about me.
It was my subconscious emotions taking over. Chasing. I wanted to prove everyone wrong so bad, trying too hard, NOT LETTING THE GAME COME TO ME.
At the moment I didn’t understand any of this. I was pissed & here were my thoughts:
“Why me? Why now? I’ve worked so hard.” BOO FUCKING WHO. I had the victim mentality. I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself. The moore that you sit there & feel sorry for yourself, the harder resistance is going to hit you. If you get down on your knees it's going to kick you while you are down there.
When it rains it pours.
My X-Ray. That little socket is where my kneecap is supposed to be.
So the doctors say, “Let’s rehab for 2 weeks, strengthen it up, & you’ll be back for the WSU game!” LOL.
So, I am rehabbing my knee, but deep down in my gut I know it's bad. It just doesn’t feel right. It’s unstable, It’s not getting better, but here I am forcing it.
So the first practice leading up to the WSU game, my trainer takes me to the back field to try and jog. I am so nervous, I’ve just been limping everywhere at this point. I take a couple steps jogging & POP. Out goes the knee again.
I just sit on the ground crying, not even because it hurts, but just knowing THE ONE THING I (selfishly) LOOKED FORWARD TO, I couldn’t partake in. Part of me at the time was debating why I was even in Reno. Did I commit just to play against WSU? That definitely weighed heavy in my decision making process, but I didn’t know what I was going to do. I’ve never been injured like this before, I’ve never had to miss games. I don’t think I ever missed a game in my life.
I knew my season was over.
I got to travel to WSU, which was awesome. I got to see all my boys, walk into Martin Stadium again, it was unbelievable.
Hunter said, “Don’t even trip that you’re not playing.”
“Thanks bro,” I replied
“Because even if you were playing, I’d lock you up so bad, it would be like you weren’t playing anyway.” In true hunter fashion, that was his love.
Here’s an article they wrote about our friendship. Pretty cool.
It was bittersweet being there. It just made me think harder. “Did I make a mistake?” “Should I be there right now in Pullman?”
When we got back to Reno, I knew my season was over, but I was under the impression I was going to rehab all season and come back when I was ready, & maybe even make the last couple games.
Early Sunday morning I got called into the trainers office. “Kaleb, you need surgery & you’re getting it tomorrow morning.”
Well, shit. That sucks okay. Let me call my mom (obviously the most logical thing to do in every stressful situation).
She books a ticket and will be there that night. God I love that woman.
I head to the team meeting & all the coaches ask me, “Where is David?”
He was my roommate & made his college debut in that WSU game. It wasn't pretty.
David was a transfer from Alabama who had HUGE expectations coming into Reno. He was the starter on day 1 of fall camp, but eventually lost his job before the first game. We then had a QB carousel for 3 games where David eventually got to play.
David was wealthy & took care of me for a while in Reno. He let me stay in a badass downtown Apartment with him for free & let me use an extra SUV (escalade) his family had out there. He wasn’t a bad dude. He was misunderstood & wanted to play football.
After the meeting, I came back home to David playing FIFA in the living room.
“Why weren’t you at the meeting?” I asked.
“I am leaving tomorrow,” He said.
He followed with, “I need you guys out by tomorrow, they found tenants.”
Let me remind you all I have with me is a bag of clothes. That’s all I brought up to Reno because I thought I was going to live there the next 2 years. AND I AM GETTING SURGERY TOMORROW.
At this time I didn’t have a ton of friends. Especially not the point of being so close to ask for help after surgery. I had Griffin Dahn (who will have his own blog post) & my girlfriend at the time who I have only been with for a month & only knew for like 3. So two super early relationships.
If Griffin is reading this I know he is saying, “If YoU WoUlD HaVe JuSt LiVeD wItH mE.” I know, I know, I fucked up.
So, I went to the training room that evening to get dialed in for surgery. I am pretty emotional. I am literally homeless, my mom comes in tonight, I just lost my season, & I’m getting my knee reconstruction tomorrow.
INSERT THE MF WEBERS.
Lucas Weber & his God sent parents saved me. I saw Lucas in the locker room, (that fucker was always in there. Psychopath work ethic. We used to see who would get to the facility earlier, he won).
Lucas could tell I was fucked up. We didn’t talk a ton before this, but we were cool. I told him pretty much what happened with everything.
“I live at home right now & we have a guest house. It’s like a 1 bedroom apartment. You can stay there until you find a place if you’d like.”
I am forever thankful for Lucas & his family.
My mom flies in & I get surgery.
Drugged up, shakas out, ready to roll. COMEBACK SZN.
My mom takes me to the Weber’s house where Lucas’ dad literally carried me like a baby into the guest house couch. My mom stayed for me for about two days before she left.
Those two days were tough. Once the painkillers stop working, all that pain rushes to your swollen knee. I couldn’t do anything by myself. My mom had to wipe me down with a wet cloth because I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t even put my damn sock on, it sucked.
Those two days were brutal & I knew my mom had to go back home to work, so I knew it was only going to get harder.
My mom left. Griffin, Sierra, & Kyle visited me everyday even when my mom was there.
We had a Buffalo Wild Wings tradition where we would go every Thursday. Griffin Started it during summer & it stuck all year. That Thursday after surgery they all dragged me out to BWW. I was in so much pain all the time I couldn't even focus. I was annoyed, negative, tired, & just mad at the world. So I left early with my girlfriend at the time. Once we got back to the guest house, I no longer had a girlfriend. Lol Adversity man!
So all in one week, my season ended, I had surgery, I was homeless, I got dumped, I’m in an unfamiliar city, school, team, It was a lot. Everything was hitting at once. When it rains it pours right?
The next day I spent completely alone. I moved off the reclined couch and I think twice to go to the bathroom.
It was a Friday night & WSU was playing USC. Minshew Mania has taken over college football. I watched the whole game until the very end where Jahad Woods sacked Sam Darnold to end the game and beat USC in Martin Stadium. The fans rushed the field, it looked legendary.
At this point in my life this is the darkest and hopeless I’ve ever felt. Watching my old team, friends, coaches celebrating on national TV while I sit and watch with my newly constructed knee. I was so happy for them, but at the time I am still in this bullshit victim mentality.
I had this boo hoo, poor me mentality for a couple weeks. “Wtf, why me?”
WHY NOT ME? Maybe I had to look in the mirror. Sometimes bad shit happens to good people. SOmetimes you don’t deserve it. Sometimes you work your ass off & don’t get the one thing you wanted most. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It is what it is.
You can’t always control what happens to you in this life, but we can control how we respond. I responded, excuse my language, like a little bitch. I would show up late to the training room for physical therapy, then once I got there I would sleep, I would argue, I would have an shit attitude, & I was angry all the time. I was constantly doubting myself & why I was still in Reno. I stopped showing up to team meetings & events. Partly because I didn't have a car. I had to bum rides all the time to & from school. I wanted to go home. I was just in a very very shitty place.
When you reach dark places in life, only you can pull yourself out. You have to find a reason, a passion, a ‘why’ & dig deep into your fucking soul to pull yourself out. STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF & think what is the next step in getting myself better. Think about step 1.
The whole time I was thinking about what I didn’t have anymore at that moment. MY vibration was set on that. I was attached to the game for my happiness. I was thinking about playing again instead of just focusing on getting 1% that day.
Thank god Griff got surgery on his ankle shortly after I got surgery, because he was the only person keeping me sane & pretty much my only friend due to my lack of communication with everyone because I was too busy being soft af.
Griff took care of me, but I still was in a funk. My mental was missing. I lost the ‘fuck you’ mentality that has gotten me everywhere.
INSERT TRIBE MEMBER: Tyler Crandall
There’s a reason people come into our lives, I truly believe that. Crandall ignited the walk-on mentality in me again when I lost it, when I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself he showed me perspective. I saw some of my old self on him. And the way he worked, the way he loved football & how he would do anything to get on that field and go to war with his teammates. He didn’t care about all the bs he wanted To just play,
Remember being a kid and all you care about is playing the game. Like when you first start a sport or join the team, you just want to make the team. Then you do. Then you move up and your goals become higher and higher, but sometimes you forget being that walk-on & all you wanted was that opportunity. That’s the grounding for me. Being that walk on. When I start taking my life or position for granted. Or I start bitching about the little things. I remember I used to think fuck scout team guys are going hard, I wish they wouldn’t. Like what the fuck?! You used to be that guy! He’s fighting for a spot! Don’t get mad at the guy that’s hungry, ask yourself why you lost the hunger.
Crandall comes into the training room in tears after tearing his ACL for the third time. You can feel his frustration. His crying woke me up as I was fucking sleeping my ass on the table.
We talked a little bit while he was in there, but he was going through it. He ended up getting surgery, so I would see him in that training room every single morning at 5 AM. GRINDING through this grueling rehab. If you’ve ever been injured you know how shitty that path to recovery is in all aspects. Watching him work his ass off every morning reignited that walk-on mentality for me.
It made me stop feeling sorry for myself & made me start working again to get better.
It’s funny how close you get with others that are injured. You guys are sharing an experience together & are on the same schedule. You spend a lot of time together in that training room.
It was the start to a beautiful friendship. & a much needed one at that time in my life.
Crandall & Griff helped pull me out of a dark ass place & sparked something inside of me that I lost in my journey.
If you’re still reading this, my intention of all this is to tell you a story about the ups, downs, goods, bads, & uglies in this beautiful thing we call life.
It’s about adversity & resistance hitting over & over again. It’s about things happening in your life, that at that moment you have no idea why it is happening. It’s about finding your TRIBE, passions, & getting 1% better daily.
There are so many times when you want to quit. FUCK THAT. Don’t.
These are all the moments, stories, & times that have led me to where I am today. It has formed my mentaily & left some scars (literally). It was all happening for a reason & a picture that is way bigger than me. The universe conspires for us even when we don’t think it is or deserve it.
Your job is to keep going, keep doing, & continue to move forward.
Next Stop: COMEBACK SZN