After 13 years, my journey with football is coming to an end. Nov 18th is my last stop. I’ve been playing this game for more than 60 percent of my life, and I can genuinely say there aren’t many things I know better than football. Football is a part of who I am and has been a part of my daily ritual for most days these past 13 years. Whether it be practice, film, working out, rehab or watching the NFL on Sunday, football is a sport of true passion and dedication.

I was born and raised in Coppell, Texas, a small suburb of Dallas. I started playing football in the 4th grade. Football starts young in North Texas, and even at a young age the game is highly competitive. Even then, it was that competitiveness that I loved about the sport. I have often had people ask me if it was really like Friday Night Lights growing up in Texas: in all honesty, yes, it was. From the 4th grade up until I was a senior in high school, football was the buzz of my suburban town. The high school stadium was packed almost every Friday night with students, parents and fans. Getting as much support as I did in those formative years made the game I played feel special.

Although football is a game, it has always been about more than just fun for me. When I’m on the field or in the weight room, I get to compete against myself. Every day, football challenges my toughness, my discipline and my accountability. In many ways, I have discovered the kind of person I want to be because of the constant tests I face on the field. Do I have the determination to push the sled 10 more yards when my legs feel like giving out? Do I have the discipline to get out of bed at 5 a.m. and be at practice 10 minutes early? Do I have the passion to put in a little extra time, even on my day off? It’s the constant challenge of character that makes football truly special. My time at Yale has tested all of those qualities more intensely than any other time in my life. Being an electrical engineering major and having to balance that workload with being a Division I athlete is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. This experience has truly made me a better person and has made me realize that I can do things beyond what I thought was imaginable.

My career playing ball here is marked with moments I will never forget. During my first year I got to play in the overtime of my second collegiate game against Army, resulting in one of the most remarkable wins in Yale football history. During my sophomore year, I played three games with a broken hand doing something I didn’t know I was strong enough to do until I did it. In my junior season, the week of the Harvard game I managed to sprain my ankle so bad during a Wednesday practice that I couldn’t walk on it on Thursday. By some miracle of God and the training staff, I managed to play that Saturday and helped the Bulldogs beat the Crimson for the first time in 10 years. And then there is this year, my senior season, already capped with an Ivy League title, Yale’s first in 11 years. I hope to make my last memory this Saturday with my brothers on Team 145.

Thank you to this incredible University; thank you to the fans that have supported my team; thank you to my parents and family that helped me on this journey; thank you to my coaches that built my core values and virtues; but most of all thank you to my team. We have made a band of brothers on this team with bonds strong enough to get us through any adversity. We finally made it happen this year, and it was the family that we created that set us apart. And, as for this Saturday, in the words of Shakespeare’s Henry V, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

John Herubin is a senior in Trumbull College and a defensive lineman on the Yale football team.

John Herubin | john.herubin@yale.edu