I appreciate the opportunity to write a little something for www.SpartanThunder.com!
It's funny how this took me so long to do, and I put it off a number of times.
Anthony Rocca asked if I would write about my experience playing football at SJSU and the impact it had on my life.
I felt strange writing an article/story about myself and wasn't sure what to say. Well, it's 4:33am on a Sunday and I just woke up in the middle of the night to write this because my story just came to me.
Playing football at San Jose State University was simply "icing on the cake". This is what I told myself when I received a scholarship to play my last two years of college football for the Spartans.
Not because I had some spectacular career playing high school and junior college football leading up to 1986, but because any success I was going to have was secondary to getting a degree and enjoying college.
I decided to avoid putting so much pressure on myself and just have fun... it is just a game after all. See, my football career to that point had been littered with high expectations and squandered dreams.
I was the kid who had a ton of potential and worked harder than most to prepare, but for some reason struggled to put it all together on the field. I'd never played for a championship team or set a bunch of records.
I remember reading the media guide about guys like Mike Perez and Kenny Lutz, where they could write a book about all of their accomplishments on the field.
There wasn't much to write about me and my bio was rather short.
I grew up in Anaheim, CA with the game of football in my blood. I am the youngest of 6 kids with four boys, all of us played high school football.
My brother Greg, a year older than me, set the school record at the time for Mater Dei High School for receptions in a season and later went on to become a Honorable Mention All-American tight end at CSULB.
At Mater Dei I was groomed to be the guy, the quarterback of the future.
Playing as a freshman on the JV team, and being the only sophomore on the varsity team came with a high level of expectations. I struggled to set aside the pressure and enjoy playing football.
Unfortunately, injuries also plagued me.
Just when things would be going well I'd break a bone or tear ligaments. When my coach switched me to wide receiver my senior season it felt like my football career took a big step backwards.
My only scholarship offer was to the Air Force Academy, where I lasted about 6 months before realizing football didn't mean enough to endure the rest of the agenda there.
So I came home with my tail between my legs. I was resigned to putting football behind me and getting on with life. My dad encouraged me to continue trying but just set different goals.
He was good friends with Coach Merkle from Cerritos Junior College, and the two of them told me to play for the opportunity to earn a free education.
I hadn't thought about it that way but it sounded good.
Little did I realize until later how the shift in thinking would play into success on the field. I was no longer playing to meet anyone else's expectations, but focused on having fun and played with a specific goal in mind.
I did have mild success at Cerritos JC as we went 6-3 my sophomore year and I broke the school record for single season passing yards with a whopping 1591 yards!
Certainly that number has been doubled by now.
Claude Gilbert gave me the opportunity to meet my goal at SJSU and put my "icing on the cake".
Any accomplishments from this point forward were just that… no pressure, no expectations, just give 100% and have fun.
Heading into the 1986 season Mike Perez and I battled for the starting spot. It's almost funny to think that it really was a good battle, especially considering the level of success Mike had once he won the starting spot.
There were no expectations on either one of us, since neither of us had started a major college football game before.
Plus SJSU was coming off a 2-8-1 record from the year prior. We all know how things went for Mike and his awesome Spartan career, but my icing became a lot sweeter in the tenth game of the year when I received my first opportunity to start.
I received conference player of the week honors playing against Cal State Fullerton in my old high school football stadium with many of my old friends there to watch, and beat my brother and CSULB the following week for the PCAA title game.
The story could not have been written any better for me that year. The Spartans went on to a 10-2 record that year and then repeated that feat in 1987.
I easily could have given up on football when I came home from the Academy, but I'm so glad I didn't.
Having success on the field was only part of the icing on the cake, as the number of people surrounding Spartan Football who have positively influenced my life are numerous indeed.
I chose to live my life and raise a family in the Bay Area primarily due to the strong ties I have to SJSU and the friendships that developed from playing football there.
I accomplished my goal and received a Finance Degree from SJSU shortly after finishing football.
I am putting my degree to good use as I have worked in the mortgage industry for the past 17 years.
I work with Stone Castle Land & Home Financial as a mortgage broker.
I would love to hear from my fellow Spartan supporters, so feel free to contact me via e-mail at TonyLocy@Stonecastle-LHF.com to discuss anything from mortgages to Spartan Football.
This year marks the 20th anniversary for the PCAA Champion and Cal Bowl Champion Spartan team of 1986.
I am helping to organize, along with a number of QB Club members and Sheri Bragg from the Order of Sparta, a reunion.
Also, I have been very involved in bringing back a number of former Spartan football players to the QB Club Dinners the past few years.
We had about 35 guys come back this past November to be acknowledged and talk at one of the dinners… I hope to get that number to 100 this year.
If you have contact information for any past SJSU players or coaches, please direct that information to me and I will be happy to include them in the database we are developing.
So you are probably wondering what was so important that I wake up at 4:30 in the morning this Sunday to write this article for SpartanThunder.com.
Well, today I am signing my 9 year old son, Austin, up for Pop Warner football for the first time.
He's excited, and as you can imagine I am excited too.
I hope he can always play for the fun of the game and enjoy himself.
I hope he doesn't put too much pressure on himself and he looks for the character building aspects that come from playing football like pride, teamwork and discipline.
I hope he doesn't have too many expectations put on him over the years, and he plays as though every play is just icing on the cake of life.
Regards and Go Spartans!
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