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“At first, everybody said I was too small, I wasn’t going to get anywhere because of my height.”
From Daniele Chrystal Corliss High School

Hi, my name is Daniele and I’m here to tell you about a past event that happened to me. First I’ll give you a little background before I let you know what really happened to me, okay? I’m, in 8th grade, and, I got into a fight with a kid in my class. My gym teacher saw it. I was kinda cool with him so he tells me, “Daniele, you need something to do with your time, something constructive.” And I said, “What do you want me to do?” “Join the football team, I think that’ll be good for you.” Cause I was kind of athletically built. So I did.

At first I didn’t want to because the last elementary school I went to played flag football, and I thought it was for all elementary schools. But when I got to practice everybody was in full pads and cleats, and Under Armour and everything, and I really wanted to join the team then. At first, everybody said I was too small, I wasn’t going to get anywhere because of my height. And they said I wouldn’t make it. But I proved them wrong. I raced against their fastest runner and beat him. Then I had to go through the whole team. After I got my pads, then I thought it was over, but it wasn’t. I had to go against their middle line backer, and he was kind of big, in a drill that you call the Oklahoma Drill. You have to lay on your back until the coach blows the whistle, and then you get up and run as fast as you can, and charge your opponent. I thought that it would be easy to knock down someone my own height and size, but as soon as I got up there was a huge linebacker waiting, ten feet away from me. Out of great courage I actually charged him, I almost failed, but at the last moment, as my pads touched his, I twisted as fast as I could and the huge linebacker fell. After that, I heard the head coach say, “That’s my new running back,” and I was happy.

That year we went against everybody and were 7-and-1. The only game we lost was the one I didn’t go to. But if it wasn’t for my coach who said to me, “Daniele, join the football team,” I would have never found out that I was that good at football. He was sort of my motivator, encourager, person that told me that if I ever needed help or advice to come to him. And I think that if he saw me right now, he would be proud of me.

Interview conducted in Chicago, IL.

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