Adversity | When It Hits You In The Face, Get Back Up

Adversity is something that many of us deal with in life, whether it is on or off of the field, or in everyday life. In a time like this, we’re all dealing with adversity when it comes to the Coronavirus pandemic. People are reacting to it in different ways, as it affects us all differently.

I attended three different colleges. The second one I attended was shut down for good. I also had my senior year in college cut short due to COVID-19. So, yes, I feel as though I have dealt with adversity. I am going to explain why it is worth it to stay positive and why you need to keep going.  

The adversity I faced in college has shaped me into who I am today. My experiences, whether they are good or bad, can be used to help others with any hardships that they might be going through.  

During my senior year of high school at Xaverian Brothers, I was fortunate to have individual and team success. I was the team’s starting quarterback and was able to help lock in a 12-0 winning record. I also helped with securing a DI state championship. Our hardworking team was not only one of the best in Massachusetts but also in the country. It was an unbelievable experience and one that I will cherish. I ended my four seasons with a combined record of 44-2.

When it came to making my college decision, I wanted to attend an institution that had similar success to my high school. The school that stuck out to me during the recruiting process was Western New England University. The team was coming off of an undefeated season, and they were the top team in New England. They were also one of the best in the country. The school offered a great Sports Management program, so it seemed like an excellent option for me.

I decided to attend Western New England; however, it did not end up how I initially thought it would. By the start of the season, I was low on the depth chart as a quarterback. Realizing at the time that it would be tough for me to get on the field as a QB, I decided to make a change. My best shot at playing was to long snap. I trained way too hard in the offseason to just stand on the sideline during games. I yearned to contribute to my team in some way. Some advice that I have for first-year football players is to be versatile because it may open unexpected doors.

For the rest of the season, I performed as the team’s starting long snapper. Our team finished the season 11-1. We were 10-0 in the regular season and won our conference championship. Playing in two college football playoff games was a unique experience that I will never forget. However, the coaches wanted me to play running back. I had worked my butt to train for the quarterback position only to switch to long snap. I now had to train for another position, not exactly what I wanted to do, so I made the difficult decision to transfer to Mount Ida College.  

This was not an easy decision for me as I made some good friends at Western New England. I decided that I wanted and needed more from a school and a team. My goal was to be a college quarterback; it’s what I trained for most of my life. Coach Mike Landers at Mount Ida was going to give me that opportunity, and I had to take that chance.

The transferring process was not going to be an easy one. I had to start all over again. I had to make new friends, bond with teammates, be on the same page as the coaches, and get familiar with a new campus. I knew I needed to keep an open mind and focus on what my goal was: to play as a starting quarterback.  

During our spring football season, I was the only quarterback, so I was able to get a lot of reps. I was able to carry the momentum into fall camp, and because of this, I earned the starting QB job. I will say I trained hard, put in long hard days and nights of sacrifice. A reminder that grind is necessary if you want to be a college football player.

The season started, and I was beyond excited for my first time playing quarterback at the collegiate level. I had no idea what to expect. It was 3rd and 14, and we had a four vertical play called. Well, the video below explains the rest…

Looking back at this video, I’m not sure how I got up from that. That was a 6’4 230-pound linebacker coming untouched up the A gap. In retrospect, It was the fear of letting my brothers on the field down. I knew I had to get back up because my teammates were relying on me to do so. Some advice, sometimes you might get smacked in the face unexpectedly, you have to find a way to get back up and finish the job.

Fast forward to the spring semester. The team was grinding in the weight room to get ready for the next season. Our goal was to be better than the previous season. But unfortunately, bad news came our way! On April 6th at 12:00 PM, the entire school received an email telling us that the University of Massachusetts was buying our campus, and Mount Ida as a school would no longer exist.

This news blindsided all the students and athletes. There was never any indication that the school would be shut down for good; we were all angry and upset. Personally, Mount Ida felt like home to me, and I thought that I was going to graduate from there. At this point in the semester, it was especially hard considering other institutions already locked down their freshman classes, transfer students and signed athletes. 

The team split up and went into different directions. Eight football players from Mount Ida decided to attend Nichols College. I was glad that some of my teammates chose to attend the same college as myself. Having them by my side made it feel familiar. With that said, it also meant I had to start all over for a third time—a new school, teammates, coaches, and vying for the quarterback position. 

Because of the adversity that I had been through with attending new schools, I was up for the fight. I took what I learned and what I had gone through and refused to give up. I fought for the quarterback position, and I won. A quote that I often refer back to as a motivator. 

“If you’re going through hell, keep going,” Winston Churchill once said.

I will say that my two years at Nichols were incredible. I was the QB for two years, made lifelong friendships and connections, and I was very involved in campus life. I could not be more grateful to this school, as they gave me a new home and, most importantly, a new family.

Unfortunately, my experience at Nichols was cut short due to the coronavirus. The second half of the semester has been permanently canceled. This was extremely upsetting for our senior class as well as others. We just wanted to finish our time at the school that we love. For me, it even felt a little bit like Mount Ida closing. 

My experiences have shaped me. I had an incredibly unique college experience that taught me life lessons. I was also able to play four years of college football, win a conference championship, break school records, and start my own business doing something I love. I wanted to share my experiences with you and hope that when adversity hits you in the face, you never give up.  

I currently run QB Velocity with my father. It’s a training program for football players of all levels; we use our experience and knowledge to pass on to the next generation of athletes. We do on-field workouts as well as assisting the athletes in other areas such as college searches and nutrition for the football athletes. Most of our clients have been in Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Central Massachusetts, and we are looking to keep expanding.

* Originally published on April 23, 2020, by Michael Pina

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