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Life As A Walk On

By Tom Hackett:

May 2nd 2012 – I walked off a plane that had just landed in Salt Lake City alone, very much anticipating who would be awaiting me at baggage claim. I was dressed to impress, suit pants, formal leather shoes, a belt with a tucked in ‘ProKick Australia’ polo shirt, I even spent the time on the plane to make sure my hair was looking the goods. News flash: no one was waiting for me. I thought that was odd, Coach Hill had told me how excited he was to welcome me into the Utah football program? He mentioned how big of an asset I could become, and how he expects me to challenge Sean Sellwood (current starting punter at this time) for the starting job? I called him immediately –

Me: “Coach! Hey I am at the airport, wondering if you are on your way!?

Coach Hill: “ Hey Tom! Wait, you’re at the airport?! Are you here already? I didn’t think you would be here for another week?

It was that moment when I realized the journey I had embarked on was going to be slightly more challenging than I had assumed. It was my first experience of ‘life as a walk-on’.

The day I earned my scholarship, after a year and a half of ‘walk-on life’, my tenure at the U was vastly different. You finally feel as though you belong on the team, you don’t have to be embarrassed to say you’re a walk-on anymore because you’re finally getting paid! You walk around campus taller, as if you finally fit. I cannot express the emotion and gratitude I had for Coach Whittingham to gift me with such a fortuitous opportunity.

When you next see a kid on campus or in public, and he looks as if he could be a walk-on (characteristics below), do me a favor and make his day. Simply go and tell him what a great addition to the football team he has been! If he proceeds to tell you that he isn’t on the football team then he at least walks away from the conversation with the thought of trying out…and if he is on the football team then, good lord, he will forever cherish that conversation and continue to over tell it to everyone.

Walk on characteristics (no particular order):

  • Large muscles
  • Strange walking style (could be early signs of poor athleticism)
  • Beer belly?
  • Receding hair line
  • Any care for school is a good sign…

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