Hundreds of thousands of high school students play football for their respective schools. Out of this group of young men, a few thousand will be recruited and accept a scholarship at a top-tier 1A college program. An even smaller number of these college football players will have the opportunity to play professionally, in the either the NFL, CFL, or Europe. Some people are destined for greatness and there are a lucky few who are able to sit back and watch it along the way.
Ryan Glasper, recently signed safety for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, is the main focus and inspiration behind this article. Glasper played his high school football at Southington High School in Connecticut and then went on to play four years at Boston College.
He is best known for this performance in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl as the BC Eagles defeated Boise State. Glasper had two interceptions, one in which he intercepted a pass in the end zone with 37 seconds to go and gave the Eagles the win. Recently, Glasper filed for Free Agency from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL and signed with the aforementioned Argonauts.
Glasper grew up in New Britain, CT and came to play at Southington High School when he moved in with head football coach Jude Kelly. Since the first time that Glasper stepped on to Fontana Field in Southington, CT, people could see that he was something special.
In his illustrious high school career, Glasper was a running back, punt returner, kick returner, wide-receiver, quarterback, and strong safety. As they say, this guy did it all. He still holds high school records on longest return for touchdowns and longest play from scrimmage.
From the first time I saw him play, I knew that Ryan was going to be a star. I was in eighth grade and Friday nights in Autumn were all about going to see the high school football game. There were plenty of stars on the team, but nobody brought more excitement to the crowd than Glasper did. I can remember thinking, even in 8th grade, that I couldn't wait to get to high school and meet this guy.
During my freshman year of high school, I finally had that opportunity. I went right over and introduced myself to Ryan and told him that I was a huge fan. At first, he treated me like a nobody and just went on his way. However, as I got more involved with the school and the football team, Ryan began to notice me. There was no question that I was his biggest fan, knew his weekly statistics better than he did, and began to meet his family and closest friends.
Ryan also played on the high school basketball team, which I was the manager of, and the track team. Because I was the varsity manager, we spent basketball season together too. By the end of my freshman year of high school, we were friends.
During his senior year of high school, my sophomore year, Ryan was elected captain of our football team. I played as a sophomore tackle and he was the senior quarterback/wide receiver/safety. It could not have been a more different pair of friends, but I was now more than just a fan. I was his teammate! I could watch this stud from the sidelines now and see him make plays up close.
Ryan went on to win all-conference and all-state honors that year. Still, we would go out after the games and even show up at some parties together. I was the most excited person to find out that Ryan had signed a letter of intent to play for the Boston College Eagles.
Football season ended, but that meant basketball season began. I managed the varsity team again and Glasper played on it. We went through the same routine as we had the previous year, but this time it was different. It was more of a friend relationship, rather than a fan and player type of thing. I was proud to be able to tell people that he was my friend and I had his cell phone number (which I still have and use from time to time).
After high school, Ryan went on to Boston College and immediately made an impact as a starter in their defensive backfield. Even though he was bothered by injury, Glasper started for four years at BC and won all four bowl games that he appeared in.
After Boston College, he tried out for a few NFL teams but went un-drafted. Glasper went on to suit up for the Hamilton-Tiger Cats, but left them in October for Toronto. Even though people don't pay attention to the CFL here, it's still professional football.
This article was not written to highlight Ryan Glasper or to try to show that I know a professional athlete. The article is meant to show that these types of stories are found in every high school in the United States.
Every star player started as just another high school player and then went on to bigger and better things. Behind every star, there were guys who never got to play. There are guys who played alongside them, but never made it past high school. There are guys who sat next to them in classes and guys who tutored them to make sure they didn't become academically ineligible.
Ryan Glasper is one of my favorite professional athletes and he is someone that I'm honored to call a friend. Ryan represents thousands of athletes around the nation and it's an honor to have a small part in his success story. While there are millions of others who can tell a similar story, each one of them is just slightly different. These are the stories that make these athletes normal people. Southington is proud of Ryan Glasper and so am I.