On October 12th, Princeton football student-athletes Tommy Wornham '12 and Steven Cody '12 joined PVC members, Princeton coaches, student-athletes, and administrators at the Class of '56 Lounge in Princeton Stadium for the PVC Fall Coaches Luncheon. Wornham and Cody, who are co-captains of the 2011 team, discussed the "Education through Athletics" that each has received during his four years on campus.
Tommy Wornham '12
Thank you very much for having me here today. My name is Tommy Wornham. I am from San Diego, California. I attended a small private school in La Jolla and graduated in a class of 95 students. I began playing football in the 9th grade and immediately fell in love with the sport. After a memorable high school career, which culminated in a perfect 12-0 CIF championship season my senior year, my dream was to play college football.
I visited many different schools during the recruiting process, just about all of the Ivy League schools and a few in the ACC. However, there was something about Princeton that made it feel different from all of the rest. When I came on my official visit in December, I was able to pinpoint what that difference was…. the people. Everyone I met, from coaches to players to athletes on other sports teams, had a certain charisma about them that I had never seen anywhere else in my life. After spending 15 minutes on campus my Dad said that he knew exactly where he wanted to go to school, and it was not long after that I realized the same thing, I wanted to be a Princeton Tiger.
Another reason I decided to attend Princeton was the facilities. Every kid who has ever dreamed about playing college football will tell you that playing in a great stadium is one of the most appealing aspects to a college team. My jaw dropped the first time I saw Palmer Stadium and the butterflies began to buzz in my stomach as I envisioned myself playing football in such a great facility. In addition to the stadium, Princeton had more Nike equipment than I had ever seen in my life, not to mention alternate orange jerseys.
Mr. Walters’ motto, “Education through Athletics,” is something I would have never understood if I had not played football here at Princeton University. I have learned so much about myself: my work ethic, my character, my leadership abilities and my ability to take criticism, in my four years in this program. Whether it be waking up at 5:45 in the morning and walking from Mathey College down to Jadwin Gym in a snow storm for winter conditioning or spending my summers on campus lifting weights and preparing for the season, I have truly learned who I am.
However, there is no way I would have been able to make it through these four years if I was not surrounded by such great people. There is a unique bond that all of the athletes share on this campus, we have all been pushed to exhaustion both physically and mentally and lived to reminisce about it. I cannot even count the number of times my teammates and I have recalled an early morning workout that pushed us to the absolute edge. But at the end of the conversation we acknowledge the fact that it has made us stronger, not only as a person but in our friendships as well.
However, it is not just the students I have met here that have defined my experience but the alumni as well. Every Saturday I receive emails from Princeton Football Alums, ranging from the class of 1972 to 1992 to 2008 all wishing me good luck in the game. It is incredible to know how many people are behind our program and want to see us succeed not only on the football field but also in life. My first real experience with the alumni support came after our double overtime win last year over Lafayette. Following the game Dick Kazmaier shook my hand and said, “You are a great player, I know you will do great things.” This is a moment that I know I will never forget. It is the unique experiences like these along with the great friendships I have made that make the Princeton Football experience unique. I truly feel as though I can accomplish anything I set out to do by applying what I have learned over my four years in this program. Hard work, friendships and resiliency are what define my time as a Princeton Football player. Thank you very much.
Steven Cody '12
I am truly honored to speak on behalf of the PVC and the football team today. Walt Disney once said, “you may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” During the five years I have spent as a student-athlete at Princeton, I have been kicked in the teeth a number of times. As unpleasant as some of these challenges were when I had to endure them, I would like to share a couple of these experiences with you, as they have undoubtedly made me the person that I am today.
The first of these challenges involved simply being accepted into Princeton. I had a deep, almost unexplainable resolve to become a student-athlete at Princeton, a goal which I had set for myself as a junior in high school.
My journey from “prospective student-athlete” to Princeton Tiger started with the hockey team, where coach Gadowsky told me that the team was in search of “finesse, skill type forwards,” which I certainly was not. So after being politely rebuffed by the Men’s Ice Hockey team, I decided to give the Men’s Track and Field team a try. Coach Samara was impressed with my times in the 200 and 400 meters, but he said that he had already used up his roster spots for his incoming class of athletes, so again, I was out of luck. Fatefully, my high school football coach believed I had the ability play at the Ivy League level, and knowing my strong desire to attend Princeton, he gave coach Roger Hughes a call, and I was eventually given a spot on the football team as a member of the 2007 freshman class.
My freshman year at Princeton was similar to the experience of most student-athletes: I was overwhelmed by the expectations placed on me, both on the field and off. Luckily, the football team was full of strong leaders who would not allow me to fail; Tim Boardman ’08 and Scott Britton ’10 helped me the most, but there are many more individuals who got me through my freshman year in one piece.
My sophomore and junior years went well, as I became accustomed to what this university expects of its student-athletes, and was able to excel both in the classroom and on the field. I entered my senior year with a great deal of excitement for what lay ahead, as the football team had been placed under a new coaching staff headed by coach Surace. However, in our first game against Lehigh, I suffered a broken leg, which ruled me out for the remainder of the season. It did not take much time for me to decide to repeat my senior year, so that I might rejoin my teammates for 2011 season, which is why I stand here today.
Needless to say, I learned a great deal from my injury and my time off. What struck me most about Princeton University, the Princeton Football Association and the Princeton Varsity Club during this time was the tremendous amount of support I received from fellow students, my coaches, and alumni. This support came in a variety of forms, whether it was just a few words of encouragement, or help in finding an internship so that I could make my year off useful to my career.
In conclusion, Princeton has taught me an invaluable life lesson—that life is full of daunting challenges, but with these obstacles there are also a number of people eager to help you along the way. This season, the football team has instituted a mentorship program between seniors and freshmen, which aspires to strengthen our tremendous support system even further, and to continue the tradition of academic and athletic excellence that the PVC and Princeton University so proudly espouse.
Thank you for your time.
Click here to visit the PVC Testimonials section of PrincetonVarsityClub.org. It contains essays by Princetonians from across multiple decades, and is organized by the sport in which each author participated.
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