On October 12th, Princeton football student-athlete 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. Cody, a senior linebacker and team co-captain, gave the following address.
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.
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