I remember going to Florida Atlantic University games and seeing the stadium stark empty, minus the section where family and friends of athletes cheered on, of course. Even the rivalry game between FAU and FIU brought out few onlookers besides friends and family of the players.
While sitting in those sections, cheering on my alumni, I observed the family members with shirts showing who they were representing. The shirts usually read: “[player’s name] mom, grandma, girlfriend, uncle” etc. I saw one player’s mom constantly out of her seat in cheering on her son, telling him to keep his head in the game. I saw another parent feverishly applauding when his son nailed his fourth career interception. It was then when I started to wonder about the importance of having a support system. Little did I know, I’d be experiencing it first-hand.
Two years ago, I was just a young lady who was excited to learn about football. To be honest, at first when looking at the football team roster, I determined my favorite player, not based on position or skill set, but my favorite number, (seven, in case you were wondering).
It turns out I had a class with number seven a couple months later. That number belonged to Cre’von Leblanc and it was from that point we built a friendship, which grew based on support for each other and our dreams. Fast forward one year, on Chicago Bears game days, I make the one-hour drive to West Palm Beach to cheer my friend on as he lives out his dream playing in the NFL. Cre’s mom started a fan club where the members come together to cheer him on. There are 50 of us now, and we all love coming to support our favorite player. This past Sunday I joined the club in West Palm again and while sitting there, I looked around the table and observed that this group of 50 was, again, composed all family and friends. I mention all this to say that at the end of the day, your family will always be there to support you. I started to think about the times when Mama Leblanc had to drop Cre’von off to practice or a game. Then I thought about the 49 college games she had to make hour long drives to. Mrs. LeBlanc never missed any of them. She was always there, even for his pro day performance. If I didn’t before, I now know that there is someone who will always be shouting Cre’von’s name louder than me.
Through my journey in sports, especially with wanting to open my sports Management firm, I know that I will be working very closely with, not with only the athletes, but also their families, when building a player’s brand. I am hoping all of the families, that I will have a pleasure working with, will be just as kind, caring, and loving as Mama LeBlanc.
At the end of the day, these athletes are playing not just for themselves, or the fans, but for their loved ones. The ones who probably don’t even remember all of the sacrifices they made just so that player could put on a jersey. In all my learning, one thing I know for sure is: Sports is family.
~ With Love, Daphnie A.