Armani Sampson Reflects on His JU Career

Cred: Fran Ruchalski
Cred: Fran Ruchalski

A "five-year, emotional roller coaster." That's the perfect phrase to sum up my experience as a Jacksonville University student-athlete.  

There were moments when everything was looking up. Like riding to the peak of a roller coaster, homework was done, grades were looking pretty good, and the team was on a winning streak. But then, the first drop comes. There are three papers due, two tests, 6 a.m. workouts and the team isn't playing as well as normal.  

Getting through the struggles of the classroom and the gridiron is what being a student-athlete is about.  

Through my opportunity to play football at JU, I have experienced so many new things like traveling to cities that I've never been to before. My favorite has to be my first trip to New York. Riding through downtown Manhattan and passing tall skyscrapers with gigantic televisions on them looked like something right out of an action movie. That day, I really got a glimpse of why it is called, "the city that never sleeps."

The best experience that I can take away from my time here is the special relationship that I've formed with my teammates. Any person that has ever been on a team will tell you that it's a special bond. My best friends are the same people that have shed blood, sweat and tears with me on the field and in the locker room. Even when you are going through those "roller coaster drops," it's your teammates that help you stay optimistic and focused on the task at hand.

As my final game as a student-athlete for the JU Dolphins approaches, I leave a lasting piece of advice for the freshmen - "always be a champion."

Have the courage and strength to overcome any circumstance. Life isn't about how many times you win, it's about how you come back after you lose. Every time I am knocked down, I remember a story about the greatest champion who ever lived, Muhammad Ali. In his first fight against Joe Frazier, Ali was losing heavily on the scorecards, and in the 11th round, he was knocked down for the first time in his career. He went on to lose the fight, and afterwards a reporter asked him why didn't he just stay down and end the fight a round early.

Ali said something that I will stick with me for the rest of my life. "The first thing I heard was the ref counting 'eight', then I thought I don't belong here. Champions don't belong on the ground."

So freshmen, when life and college start to beat you to your knees, just remember, "Champions don't belong on the ground." 

Dolphins for life.

-Armani Sampson