From the Sidelines to a College Roster-"A Dream Come True"
Friday night lights shining down, being a Varsity starter- the star quarterback at that, along with a loud stadium with a kickin' band.... this is what every football kid dreams of. But for one San Antonio Christian athlete, the dream didn't stop there! Making his way onto a College roster, and a chance to play football at a higher level was Joel Allen's dream since first grade.
The road since first grade certainly hasn't been easy, and Joel has faced a lot of closed doors along the way that could have been defeating enough to stop, but he didn't. Starting his freshman year as the JV quarterback and going undefeated in what Joel says was a really fun, competitive season was what got his high school career going. "Leading that team was really awesome," he said. He looked forward to his possible opportunity at being on Varsity his sophomore year and playing an important role there.
However, Spring game of his freshman year, Joel's mindset became forever changed. A little freshman, playing safety, he got banged up in a shoulder collision, and the sophomore season was quickly "taken from him". A separated shoulder and a torn labrum halted the dreams he had to find his spot on the varsity roster that next season. However, unlike many athletes, he remembered his dream to continue on into college and he pressed on. He got the surgery, and he didn't miss a practice. "I was going out and trying to help wherever I could," he said.
His commitment to the team ultimately landed him a role he never thought he would get in his high school career- an "official" spot on the sideline. "I was in the green hat!" Joel said proudly as he earned the spot to be the signaler for the Offensive Coordinator. "That helped me get a better understanding of the game, he said, you get to think about different things while you're technically not in the pads- it really opened up my mental side of the game."
The next summer, Joel worked hard to build his arm strength back up and hoped to get back to playing the way he was before. "It was really embarrassing," Joel said about his abilities after his surgery. He wasn't able to throw a ball more than 20 yards, and he said people began questioning him being a quarterback. Many suggested he switch positions and just play receiver, but that motivated him even more he said, "I wanted to get back into a position where I was even better than I was before." Again, the dream remained and he was pressing on towards that goal and not letting anything stop him.
He worked hard all summer, got better and better, and got his first Varsity QB start the second game of the season his junior year. The Lions took the field against Bandera, and he remembers it vividly. The 3rd play of the game, he threw a 40-yard touchdown pass and Joel said that is one of his best memories. "I couldn't really process what was happening, I walked off the field and I was like 'Oh My Gosh I just threw a pretty good pass for a touchdown, and this is my first start!'" Going from only being able to throw 20 yards six months prior, to throwing an opening drive touchdown for 40 yards was something he will never forget.
By Katelyn Ling
Then Spring of 2020 rolled around, a spring no one will forget! All High School students at SACS got to choose an interim term week schedule, where Joel chose to do the parent led College Tour week. Tarleton, TCU, Oklahoma State, and Arkansas were all on the list, with a final stop at Ouachita Baptist University. "That was the last normal week before Covid hit," he said laughing. They were likely some of the last people to be allowed as visitors on campus, and he got the opportunity to really see what all they had to offer at Ouachita. Coach Peyton Morris, the running backs coach for the Tigers, talked with Joel and his family and gave them a tour and answered any questions they had. Once he met with Coach Morris and heard all about the school and the football team he said, "I pretty much fell in love with the program."
Covid-19 really hit a week later- schools shut down, no off season, and the potential of no season at all- another road block that Joel and all athletes had to face. The possibility that his senior season would be taken away, after already losing his sophomore season was something Joel wasn't ready for. Thankfully though, the season came to fruition and Joel was able to play Quarterback and help lead his Lions team. Having stayed in contact with the coaches from Ouachita, Joel was asked to send his highlight film at the end of the season. He got the news that he was going to get a preferred walk on spot and Joel was excited! He took an official visit, and got an in depth tour and met with all the coaches. "They are doing something special up there," he said, " you don't find it just anywhere that's for sure."
"It was surreal, but also felt like I was meant to do it," Joel said about getting this opportunity. Knowing he has trained as hard as he could, and has done everything possible to have this moment, to be one step closer to making a dream a reality he feels a sense of accomplishment.
Joel has now committed to Ouachita Baptist University, plans to sign his letter of intent next week, and he will head off in the fall to a place where he will work to have his dream of playing college ball actually become a reality. Joel said he knows "this wouldn't be possible without God", and he wanted to be sure and thank his coaches: Henry Ellard, Brandon Parrott, Howard Jackson, Robin Rapp, Ted Costanzo, Rudy DeLosSantos, Coach Fleener and Yale Vannoy.
"It is really a dream come true," Joel proudly stated!