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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Great Migration: Football Players at Fullerton

There is a big question as to why the majority of our football team is getting represented by non-Californians.

Questions regarding why they came, where they’re from and what does their future hold.

Byrnes talking to the Football Players
Coach Tim Byrnes giving advice and encouragement before the game on Oct. 1st during practice. Photo credit: Valerie Vera

This situation is mostly due to word of mouth of previous alumni who were also out of state and had the same drive and hunger for new experiences at a well respected school.

“I had a friend, a former high school teammate who played for Fullerton. He gave in a good word for me so I decided to check it out,” defensive liner from Memphis, Tyler Stepney said.

“I didn’t want to be home. The people are nicer here but back at home, I didn’t really talk to anyone.”

Not only did the players come by word of mouth, but to escape the harsh realities of their hometowns.

“The environment of where I’m from was not good and I just need to get out of the South” Muhammad Jefferson stated, as he describes New Orleans.

“Where I grew up was crazy with lots of killings and peer pressure. I was one of the lucky ones who decided to do something with my life.”

Despite coming from different areas across the United States, many stated that the coaching methods are the same with a few new skills that were acquired.

“I learned a few new things I didn’t get back in Ohio,” wide reciever, Asante Wilder said.

“I mostly learned technique. That there is a certain way you should run things and how you should maneuver to get to your quarterback to retrieve the ball.”

When you move into a new state for the first time with no family, no sense of direction and little money, it leads to new responsibilities at hand.

Since there are so many players without a place to live, they console in one another into making living arrangements.

“I live in a house with ten other players” Wilder said. “The coach normally tells us to go get jobs and we do, but Financial Aid helps a lot.”

Head Coach Tim Byrnes is proud of this progress and encourages them to make the risky move of playing here.

The Football Team Practing
Here are the players practicing run throughs before the game in Moorpark on Oct 1st on our campus baseball fields. Photo credit: Valerie Vera

“For the kids of out of state, it’s a lot tougher for them to make it out here because they pay rent, and pay for classes but they saw the opportunity to make life better for themselves” Byrnes declares.

Having struggles of adjustment and new responsibilities, everyone said they would gladly come to Fullerton College again and have aspirations of going into the NFL.

“it’s so diverse out here. It’s easier to focus out here and no one has the mentality to cramp you abilities” Joshua Jeffrey from Maryland said. “They want to see you succeed.”

Byrnes accepts the challenge of having out of state players but isn’t very surprised.

“We have a great program here. We do a good job when they contact us to approve them.” Byrnes explains. “It shows us that their families have trust in us and this program that transfers thirty-five kids a year to four year universities.”

He commemorates all the players who took a leap of faith coming to Fullerton College and it grateful for the things he learns about his players.

“I give the kids credit to having the courage and ability to come here. They’re all good kids and as a coach, your eyes open to all these places and problems they faced and it’s shocking. But you can’t give up on any kid.”

Anyone who is in self-doubt, and is afraid to take a chance, just has to go for it.

“Just stay focused and keep your mind on the prize because you’re going where you need to go.” Jefferson said.”

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