Sports Editor Justin Kline asked Plant City-area football players what fuels them on and off the field.
An ACL tear will keep Durant senior defensive back Jaden Garrett sidelined this season. But Garrett, who will help the coaching staff all season, is staying positive.
Although the injury has been nothing but a burden, Garrett has dealt with bigger problems in the past. As such, he knows a thing or two about keeping cool in the face of adversity.
We know you won’t be able to play this year, but we’ll look past that for this one. When healthy, what’s the number one thing a team is going to get from you?
Leadership. I like to make sure everybody on the field is doing what they have to do, make sure they’re doing the right thing. Whatever’s best for the team and helps us get a win at the end of the day.
What do you do before a big game to get hyped, and get everybody else hyped?
We just tell each other we know we can go out there and do it. We get a little music going. We have a chant we started, I think during my freshman year. Our running back, Crispian Atkins, started it. It was the first time I heard it, and we usually do that before games. It gets us going. We come out of the field house and, right before we run out, it’s, “Y’all boys ready? We ready, we ready. Y’all boys ready? We ready, we ready. Let’s get it.”
What’s the most fun thing about being a part of this Cougars team?
Building relationships. My best friend’s on here. I’ve known him since second grade, but we’ve gotten stronger these four years. Just, hopefully, we can both make it out.
What’s going on off the field that motivates you to go out there and do your best, whether it’s in a game, at practice, the weight room or whatever?
I know colleges look for student athletes. They don’t want a good player who does nothing in the classroom. My mom preaches to me – she’s a teacher here – to “get in the classroom first and on the field second, and it’ll come to you.”
Who are some of your biggest influences, besides people within the football program?
My mom and my brother. My mom’s a strong woman who’s been there for me. My brother’s faced a lot of adversity, breaking his arm twice – once in little league, once his senior year – and coming back from it as a better athlete and a better person. That’s what I want to do, since I’m injured now. I want to come back better.
What’s one of the most important things that’s ever happened to you off the field, something that’s made you the person you are today?
The divorce of my parents. Just growing up with a single mom and an older brother who plays the part – he kind of played the part of my dad … he’s teaching me the right things. Now that he’s older, he plays the role of my dad and just tries to keep me straight.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with divorce around your age?
Just stay strong. God will guide you. That’s what my mom preaches to me. It’s all part of God’s plan. You don’t know what He’s going to do, but He knows exactly what He’s going to do. It might be hard, but just stick through it and pray, and everything will be alright.