That's me yesterday at Everbank Field. I may or may not have been testing the light for my selfies for if Blake Bortles walked by. I went to the last Jacksonville Jaguars open practice before the pre-season and regular season starts up this weekend. I learned a lot about myself yesterday and I thought I should share it.
First off, if you've never been to an NFL practice and you have an NFL team in your city or remotely close to you, I am urging you to go! They are so much fun and you can meet a lot of really cool people, from fans, to security guards who give you the perfect spot to meet players, to the head coach of the team.
During practice I ended up getting a really bad headache and had to leave the practice fields to call my mom. As I sat in my car, I realized that at 23, it's still okay to need your mom. Even if she can't actually be there to help you. Sometimes just hearing your mom's voice is help enough. She encouraged me to go back into practice because what if I missed my opportunity to meet Blake?! How tragic would that have been?
As I walked back into the facility, I began to understand what the role of sports was in my life. I ended up finding a shady spot by people who had flown all the way from NYC to see these practices. That's dedication. I've been trying to find my first full-time job in sports since I graduated in December, and the job hunt hasn't been going so well for me. But going to practice yesterday really encouraged me to keep trying. If any of the guys on the team had given up when they hit a bump in the road during high-school or collegiate athletics they wouldn't have made it to where they are now.
The 11th period started which meant that the practice was almost over and I needed to get a good spot to meet some of the players and get that perfect selfie with Blake I had practiced for. I found one, and introduced myself to the people next to me as we all began to melt from how hot the sun was. If you've never been out the the Florida Blue Practice Fields, there is no shade anywhere, EVER! So if you really want to meet (insert certain player here) you have to sweat like you were just practicing too. As we began to talk we formulated a plan to get Blake's attention for that perfect selfie.
Then I began to talk to the security guard who I had met last year. She's awesome and full of fun stories about the players and their family. She asked me what I did for a job and I was apprehensive to tell her who I worked for because of the sheer amount of people around me. If you didn't know, I work for former Jaguars player Donovin Darius, and he is still very relevant in our community, so people my age and older know exactly who he is. I didn't want the 20 question's from people. But I told her anyways because I knew she would know what it's like working for NFL players and the types of questions you don't want to get asked. Then these two 20 something guys heard me. That's when things went downhill. I'm pretty sure they thought a girl had no business working in sports by the way they asked, "What do you do for Darius?" As I explained my job they seemed so uninterested. So thank you gentlemen, for really helping to work towards equality in sports for women. This moment just fueled my fire more to work in sports and prove people like these guys wrong.
As players began to filter out of practice, I met former Jaguars QB Mark Brunell, which is going to be a great picture to go along with the one I have of us when I was just a tiny tike. I met Paul Posluszny, who was as nice as could be. Then the moment of greatness happened. I got infinitely better when I was able to meet Head Coach Gus Bradley. Sadly, Blake never came out to greet fans, whether he stayed on the field to practice or if he was super sneaky to get back to the locker room.
I learned a lot about myself at Jags practice yesterday.
1. Calling mom from your car no matter where in the world you are is ALWAYS okay!
2. ALWAYS try to stay through the end of something, even if you aren't feeling your best. You can rest when your home. Who know's who you might have missed meeting.
3. Sports will ALWAYS be my thing. No matter how much people try to discourage me from it.
4. ALWAYS talk to new people. You never know how they can help you.
5. Be cautious of telling men who act like girls have no place in sports about your job. They will ALWAYS turn their nose up at you.
6. When you get the opportunity to take a selfie with Gus Bradley, ALWAYS do it, and GET BETTER!
Currently Listening Too: "Always Yours" by Switchfoot