Sean Mardis: A Football Journey to the Pinnacle
For many athletes the path that leads to the pinnacle of a successful sports career has all types of obstacles and experiences. These athletes come from all types of backgrounds, and sports provide all these individuals a shot at the same prize of being a professional athlete. Nothing in sports though is guaranteed which is why when individuals grind for years just to get their chance to compete for a chance at their dream, it is something to be commended.
The athlete that I recently had the chance to interview presented me with yet another fascinating story of an individual that has grinded through many walks of football life. His name is Sean Mardis and he not only has worked hard to get close to reaching his goal, but has learned from and put into action the life lessons he has experienced over his football journey.
24 year old Sean Mardis grew up in a middle class home in Birmingham, Alabama. It was in this football influenced state he began to discover his calling of Football. Mardis explained he began playing football at 4 years old. Starting out by playing on the offensive line in his first full season. He also played quarterback, safety, kick and punt returner among other positions as he became a very versatile player during the early part of his football career. His intangibles also began to show themselves as he was continually named a team captain and was a prominent team leader for all the teams he played for. He spoke on how, “he lead his team out of the tunnel before games”, as well as, always look to lead and teach his teammates to help them work well as a unit. But it was not until 8th grade he was officially introduced to the positions he mainly identifies with today. These positions are running back and slot receiver which he then began to play consistently his freshman year of high school. These positions would help him fully launch his football career, and all his skills on display at a high level.
“football helped me become a more complete person. Learn to be consistent, and coming to any job or task looking be the best.”
During my conversation with Mardis he spoke to me about his time in California, the different colleges he attended and experiences he had. First he talked about one of the memorable moments he had while attending football in California. He described his 2 years at his first school, California Butte College when they went 12-0 one season breaking all kinds of offensive records for California football colleges. Then topped it off by winning the California National Championship over Cal State Fullerton. So his early experiences in California started off successfully. Though he also described the hardships he faced while on his own in California as well. These occurred when he transferred to Pasadena City College using this time as he put it to, “see what LA was like”, before signing officially with the JUCO football program. He also made this move so he could be closer to family he had in LA as he stated. Mardis described this time of his life as a struggle stating, “it was during my time out in LA I grew from a boy into a grown man.” Mardis described it as a time where living conditions were not spectacular and that it was a struggle for food but that it gave him great opportunity to build relationships. He spoke on how going through these tough times with the teammates he came to know, “helped create a brotherhood”. Now he still is in contact with many of those former teammates who are now very close friends. He also said JUCO provided him with the challenges he needed to further develop into the person and player he is today. Overall Mardis’s time in California and the JUCO program were times of continual growth to prepare for the next step of his journey. This was when Mardis then transitioned to playing college ball at both Alabama State and Campbellsville University. It was at Campbellsville where he said his other most memorable moment as a football player occurred. Mardis described that on his senior day at Campbellsville his parents got to see him play live for the first time. He described the moment as one he would never forget and how special it was to finally have two very important people in his life finally see a game of his. Thus through his time at all these different college he continued to produce on the field while gaining valuable experiences that ready him for the reality of the world.
It ultimately was when Sean and I began to discuss the affects football has had on him and his life off the field that I really got to learn about the personal growth he has gone through as a man. This part of the conversation really helped me understand him as a person and how it has aided him in all aspects of his life. Mardis spoke about the main things football has taught him off the field. Mardis stated, “On the field love the game. But I realized when I am on the field I am representing my family, city, and neighborhood.” He also stated, “I have been given a great platform and with my opportunity I can change people’s lives and must always remember that”. Mardis also said he has had many people within football that have been influential on his life. From his father, to a couple of his former coaches one being Otis Leverette, who played for several NFL teams including the 49ers, Chargers, Seahawks. As well as “Coach Ant”, who is actually Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Jameis Winston’s Father. Even Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah, who Mardis said lived 4 doors down from his aunt’s house who helped raise him when he was young. All these people he brought up he talked about the role models they all became for him and really pushed him to work harder than he ever thought to reach for a better opportunity in life. Mardis said the specific lessons football has taught him were, “never give up no matter how hard it gets.” Also stating,” I am living proof that people from my same hometown can get out, you just have to seize the moment.” This ideal has now helped motivate Mardis to be a mentor for kids from his own hometown. He willing mentors kids from low income areas and just provides motivation and hope for those young people looking to accomplish what he has done. Now he has become a role model just as those who have helped him in his football career have been for him. Mardis concluded saying, “football helped me become a more complete person. Learn to be consistent, and coming to any job or task looking be the best.”
Our conversation transitioned back to football speaking on his next step of making a professional football team. We first discussed his specific qualities and skills as a football player. He started by describing his strengths saying, “My strengths I see being my work ethic and how I am always going to work harder than anyone. Also my football IQ and versatility I believe give me an edge.” Then when he got to his weaknesses he stated, “I want to improve my entire game so I have no weakness.” Which I saw as very telling of his determination and how hard he works each day. We also spoke on what current professionals he believes he is comparable to. The three main names he said were Ameer Abdullah, David Johnson, and Devante Freeman because of their versatility as both runners and pass catchers. Again playing to the point of his versatility and abilities to do many things well as a driving point of him as a football player.
We concluded our conversation with me asking what he would tell a scout, gm, or coach about himself to convince them he is worth a tryout opportunity to make a roster. He stated,” I would tell them I have no issues off the field. My work ethic unmatched, hands good as anyone. Great team player, and any person on earth gets along with me. Would be a good team leader and building block. As well as my versatility gives me opportunity to help the team every play.” This statement really drove home to me that Sean Mardis not only understands what type of a player he is. But also how much he understands the type of person he needs to continue to be in order to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a professional football player. Mardis has been currently tried out for 4 arena league football. As well he has worked out for a couple Canadian league football teams including Winnipeg and Edmonton. While also participating in the most recent Beyond Sports Network National Scouting Combine describing it as another great opportunity. Along with that it gave him a chance to get his tape and measurable out there, continuing his hard work to get a shot with a team. From the conversation we had I see these skills and qualities continuing to grow and produce a high quality athlete and person Which is why this is certainly a young man that is very much worth avidly rooting for.
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