1) What is your Check Your Game Story?
–> Just a little bit about me first before you hear my Check Your Game story. I’m from Xenia, Ohio and playing sports was lots of fun but I wasn’t the biggest until I started to really grow. I went from 5’ 10” my sophomore year to 6’ 2” and 220 pounds in my Senior year and this is when I started to realize that maybe I did have a shot at playing football beyond high-school! The problem though was that I didn’t get good grades and by the time I was a Senior, it was almost too late. I messed around for so long in high school and really had no strategic plan for afterwards. I winged it during my Senior year and applied to all big state schools because my grades were so bad and got accepted into UC. I walked on but before I could I had to participate in this class called Advance Winter Conditioning where 250 guys attended all with the intentions to be able to get on the football team. I was one of just 10 athletes who made it to Spring Ball and then was 1 of 5 who was invited back to Fall camp. So for me, it bothered me to be jump ship. The problem was that I needed to keep my grades up and that was tough. I attended classes that might have had over 300 in attendance and that wasn’t a good fit for me so between the rigors of life, football and my school, I was just losing hope and then one day I made a poor decision. It was during winter conditioning when I gave up. After 1 ½ years of football, I told the coach that I wanted to quit and as soon as I walked out of his room, I knew I screwed up. I wasn’t a quitter but did for the first time. I just felt overwhelmed. I then went back to the classroom and tried to focus on school all while I had thoughts of my poor decision to quit and so I decided to ask the coach, with my tail between my legs, if he’d let me back on the field. He let me back on the team and the exact same things were happening to me again. I was getting burned out. Between the big school atmosphere and football, I was back in the same place. So, during spring ball in ’96 I started to reach out to smaller schools. I had friends who went to University of Findlay and they had won a couple of National Championships. I wanted to be at a smaller school and be a part of something special and to win a few games on the field(UC wasn’t winning at the time). So after Spring Ball was up, I got a tape together and sent it out. As soon as University of Findlay got my videotape, I got a letter of intent from them. It was almost as if UC was kind of like my JUCO(Junior College). I do know that this move was one of the best moves I could’ve made. We were winning, it was a great atmosphere, we won the ’97 National Championship and I got my degree in strength training. U of F had this major and I took full advantage. I later came back to be an assistant with strength and conditioning and got my masters. After bouncing around to different high-schools and colleges, I decided I didn’t want to go down the same road as coaches who are all over the place with new jobs and so I changed directions and went into higher education which led me back to U of F in admissions. I was helping the general population as well as student athletes. I was helping to recruit, doing high school visits and college fairs. I was in essence helping these kids with a GamePlan(see Troy Tuck’s profile)! I was helping these kids overall with their futures. I now am at Bowling Green Career Services where I talk to the kids about what’s next and get them looking at their future. I enjoy watching the kids grow from freshman to their senior year. So, in wrapping up my Check Your Game story I wanted to first of all share my grades! I had a 1.9 gpa in high-school but then got a 2.5 in college all the way up to a 3.9 when I got my masters(missing one paper in order to have a 4.0). The reason why I share this is because in high-school I wasn’t thinking about my future. I didn’t have a reason to get good grades until I realized I needed the grades for school and then I put forth more effort. During my stint at UC, I also acknowledged that the atmosphere, big classrooms and overall feel wasn’t for me and so I made that change to a smaller school where my learning style in smaller classrooms was the right place for me. Check Your Game is looking at your life and being honest with yourself and sometimes making a move that may not seem right but in the end, it works out. My lack of grades and an overall plan when I was younger has really encouraged me to help others who are in the same boat as me. During that spring ball time in 96, I was reaching out to a smaller school and had other friends who went to U of F. They won a couple of national championships,. I wanted to be a part of something special and start to win. Uc wasn’t winning. After Spring ball was up, and met the coach etc, Findlay got my video tape and I got a letter of intent of Findlay. UC was kind of like my JUCO and came to Findlay and best move I could make. We were winning, great atmosphere, won the 97 National Championship and got a degree in strength in coaching. Findlay had this major and it was a better I came back a year later to be strength and conditioning for 2 years and got masters and went on to Eastern Michigan for an asst. strength and conditioning. Came back and coached high school for 4 years and then University of Toledo. Bouncing around with a bunch of schools but I didn’t want to be bouncing around too much. I changed and went into higher ed which led me back to U F in admissions. General and student athletes. Helping to recruit, doing high school visits, college fairs. I was helping them with a game plan in picking the right school and the right major. Now at Bowling Career services. Talking to kids about the next plan about what they’re going to do in their futures. I enjoy watching the students grow from Freshman to their senior year.
“Avery, thanks so much for helping to encourage others through your story. There is so much information for kids to learn from you but the one big thing is that you really did an examination of your life when at UC and realized that the big atmosphere just wasn’t a fit and so you were self aware enough to make that change that took a lot of guts. You seem to be an inspiration for so many kids whether they are in the weight room with you each day or during your job in College. Your desire to help these kids better themselves in life while helping them to go down a better path than you went down is inspiring for me to hear about. Thanks again for what you’re doing with athletics as well as allowing me to use your story to help others.” Gary Rogers
2) If you could give advice to a current athlete, what advice would that be?
–> On the academic side no matter where you’re at, make sure you get your grades up. Don’t get lost in the crowd and make sure you’re studying and doing your homework. Have a game plan for life.
BONUS QUESTION Avery to those who are reading your story, what memorable play in sports do you have? It was actually my very first play of my collegiate football career even though I spent almost 3 years at UC before transferring. We were playing an NAIA football team called Olivet Nazaren. This team we played actually had many of the coaches and some players from Purdue where they recently got fired. I was going against an ex Purdue players who was playing guard at the time. It’s interesting because I don’t even think my teammates knew this was my very first series of college football(I had never said anything to anyone). Anyway, I lined up against this individual and during the 3rd play of the series I remember looking at his stance. I knew I could beat him. My move was the bull rush and after running through him, I was a part of a sack with two other teammates who got in on the play as well. This was a memory I haven’t forgotten. Oh, and one last thing about football. When I was under the head coach Dick Strahm (member of the College HOF), we won the National Championship at University of Findlay, Mount Union won their National Championship and Youngstown State won theirs as well! All in the year 1997. Our team was 14-0 with 28 seniors and very tight knit. That was a memorable time as well!